ACT News

Festivities to celebrate Chinese New Year involve quite a menagerie

TWIN lion brothers, painted gold and red for luck, helped welcome in the Chinese Lunar New Year as part of a week of festivities in Dickson on Saturday. Inside the lions, members of Canberra's Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance troupe were making the seven-kilogram heads snap their mouths, wiggle ears and blink as part of the traditional dragon dance which brings luck for the year.

David Wong, 30, started the group in 2007 to bring Chinese culture to Canberra.

Cleo Sexton and Helen Sexton from Dickson watch members of the Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance Troupe perform in Woolley ...
Cleo Sexton and Helen Sexton from Dickson watch members of the Prosperous Mountain Lion Dance Troupe perform in Woolley Street in Dickson. Photo: Jeffrey Chan

During the dance the lion eats lettuce before spitting it back out.

''It's considered a blessing - if you get touched by lettuce it brings you a prosperous new year,'' Mr Wong said.

And if the crowd which lined Woolley Street watched closely, he said, they would see a difference in the twins.

''One has a softer look with a round lip. The other has a more aggressive look with an open mouth and sharp horn.''

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As lead drummer Mr Wong has the job of keeping everyone in time. It's a tough ask while holding 11 kilograms above your head, so the group trains every Sunday.

''People are welcome and should try and touch the lion when I go by for good luck,'' he said.

But at $1000 per costume it should be done gently.

This year is the year of the snake and Mr Wong and his group planned to bring it in with a bang.