The lion and the dragon welcome in Chinese New Year

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A keiki offers lai see to the Chinese Lion following the Lion’s parade through the socially-distanced parking lot, Friday during the Chinese New Year at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    The antics of the Chinese Lion waking from its slumber trigger spectator’s cameras, Friday during the Chinese New Year observance at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Firecrackers wake the Chinese Lion from its slumber, Friday during the Chinese New Year observance at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Kaia Shine of Soul Shine Sonic Sanctuary performs a Chinese dance to music being performed by Darren Dzurilla, Saturday during the Chinese New Year celebration at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Pua La‘a of the Dance Arts Yoga Academy leads Ah Lung the Chinese Dragon past the gong being played by Darren Dzurilla of Soul Shrine Sonic Sanctuary, Saturday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    Pua La‘a of the Dance Arts Yoga Academy uses the Pearl of Immortality to lead Ah Lung the Chinese Dragon past the recently-installed marine wildlife panel, Saturday at the Kukui Grove Center.

  • Dennis Fujimoto/The Garden Island

    A keiki braves the COVID-19 rules to hand lai see to the Chinese Lion, Friday evening during the Chinese New Year observance at The Shops at Kukui‘ula.

Businesses and individuals welcomed the Year of the Ox, 2021, with the Chinese lion and, new for this year, the Chinese dragon in the face of rules and health and safety guidelines from the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were completely booked within two hours of announcing the event,” said Stacie Chiba Miguel, the general manager for The Shops at Kukui‘ula, which welcomed the taiko performers of Tsunami Taiko and its singular Chinese lion Friday. “We could only have 25 cars. The cars could have 10 people in each one, but we could only allow 25 cars.”

Additionally, the lion’s journey was relocated from inside the shopping center to a singular parking area to further reduce the amount of people attending the welcome of the lunar new year. Attendants wielding special buckets were assigned to the lion to collect the lai see, or good-fortune offering, that normally would be fed to the lion for good luck wishes in the coming year.

“We don’t have the big crowds the lion always attracts,” Chiba Miguel said. “But at least we did it.

People want to get rid of all that was bad in 2020, said Pua La‘a of the Dance Arts Yoga Academy Saturday at Kukui Grove Center, where the shopping center combined its Chinese New Year with Valentine’s Day festivities.

“The Chinese dragon — ours is named Ah Lung — gets rid of any lingering bad spirit and energies,” Pua La‘a said. “We welcome a new year, The Year of the Ox. Additionally, the dragon invites positive energy into the celebration of the new year.”

The lion is a guardian and keeps watch over any bad spirits wanting to enter the realm.

Common between the lion and dragon is the offering for good luck and fortune.

“Normally, this is food,” La‘a said. “If there is no offering, traditionally, the young would be stolen.”

Led by La‘a and the Pearl of Immortality, Ah Lung, accompanied by the Chinese gong played by Darren Dzurilla of Soul Shine Sonic Sanctuary and the loud “Gung Hee Fat Choi” from La‘a, serpentined throughout the shopping center, attracting people who timidly approached as they came to realization of social distancing.

“Eventually, the dragon gets the pearl,” La‘a said. “In Chinese belief, the dragon and phoenix are immortal — they never die.”

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Dennis Fujimoto, staff writer and photographer, can be reached at 245-0453 or dfujimoto@thegardenisland.com.

1 Comments
  1. Pua Laà February 14, 2021 9:04 pm Reply

    Mahalo Dennis Fujimoto, Melissa and Kukui Grove Mall/Management.
    We are honored to present Chinese Dragon Dance to celebrate Lunar New Year!
    Gung Xi Fa Cai!
    Xi Nien Kuai Le!
    Sheng ri Hau Le!


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