Power, Strength & Prosperity
Penang Lion Dance!

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Penang Lion Dance - Penang Symbolic Events

When visiting Penang during Chinese Lunar New Year, you will be overwhelmed and entertained with the colorful and captivating Penang Lion Dance - A symbolic Chinese tradition that has been passing down for
generation.

The lion holds an incredibly resonant position within the Chinese community in Penang. Just about every positive quality and admirable trait the Chinese aspire to can be ascribed to it -
power, majesty, courage, strength, wisdom, happiness and good fortune.

For the Chinese, the lion are known to be capable of warding off evil spirits, and act as a guardian creature, known as "the ninth son of the dragon" and "the best employable guard" - hence the ubiquitous lion statues seen in front of palaces, bridges, offices and even wealthy residences.

The true origin of lion dance is not clear but according to legend, the earliest lion dance event ever recorded is dated more than 2000 years ago during the Han Dynasty (3rd Century BC). Some of the popular stories associate with this event was that during Chinese lunar New Year, a small Chinese village was terrorized by a strange beast. To fight back, the villagers dressed up in costumes resembling lions, and started dancing to the sound of clanging pots and pans. The strange commotion scared away the beasts. It was then, lion dancing has been stages yearly as
Chinese believe it could ward off bad luck and usher in good luck and fortune.

Another famous story is about an overweight Buddhist monk who enters a lion cave and prepares the shrine. He lights a lantern, opens the portal's double doors, sweeps away the dust and leaves, and lights candles and incense burners. The monk later wakens the lion with a drum and gong and they play. Eventually the monk tries to entice the lion to pray before the altar, but the lion has other plans. When the lion gets bored, the monk teases him with some greens, which makes the lion angry, so he subsequently bites the monk. The lion then takes the greens from the monk and eats them. Sometimes additional greens are hung out of the lion's reach. Three times the lion disperses the greens onto the audience, giving them the blessings of
wealth and good fortune.  

In Malaysia though, the first lion dance ever registered was at 1903 in Penang. Although in ancient times it held a sacred religious significance, but today it's evolved into a cultural pastime, and even a sport. It's fun and entertaining, challenging but extremely satisfying to master. With the proliferation of lion dance troupes all over Malaysia, you will be able to see young people, sometimes children as young as five, from all ethnic and cultural backgrounds, seriously getting into the lion dance.

With such a huge follower and passion in the event, it is no wonder Malaysia has come up top in world lion dance championship. 20 times to be exact, according to Mr. Siow, a martial art expert and full time lion dance performer. The World Lion Dance Championship has now become a regular fixture on the global lion dance circuit. Held every two years at Genting, it is the most prestigious lion dance competition in the world.

Lion dancing develops strength, flexibility and endurance as well as the ability to work in team and overcome obstacles through group effort. Not only do the performers display strength, coordination, agility and endurance, they also exemplify the true martial art spirit that is fast fading.

Penang lion dance is normally accompanied with the sound of firecracker but today, it is quieter now as Malaysia government bans it. However, in the small village or town, one can still witness the true traditional lion dance performance that are still lively and vibrant.

Courtesy of www.penang tourism.com.my © All rights reserved