AWAKENING THE LION 3

When my kids returned from school with a note inviting parents to the Chung Ching Middle School Lion ‘Eye Opening Ceremony’ my knee jerk reaction was to leave my camera at home (this time). The days leading up to the event had been a tiring week so naturally the thought of lugging a DSLR wasn’t all that exciting. However, no matter how much I resisted, I know there are few things at this event that I find particularly interesting — the attention to details that people would not normally have paid much attention to. Having done this twice prior, the element of fire has been the one thing that piqued my interest. If you have seen pictures from last year’s set you would be hard pressed to find much difference between the two occasions.

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It all begins with a click of a disposable gas lighter that lights up three large incense sticks.

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This is my favourite "Flame" moment.

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A member of the lion dance troupe wraps the new lion's eyes with red paper before commencement.

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A close look at the colourful decorations on the lion's head.

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Sprinkling blessed water onto the new lions including the drum (below) and other instruments.

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The founder of Soi Heng Coffee Shop (left) dotting the eye to awaken the new lion.

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When photographers cross path ... click on image to see her reaction in the next frame.

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The lions pay respect to the school Principal, Chairman and Board of Directors.

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A view of the spectators and the packed hall an example of the popularity of lion dance performance.

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The "Laughing Buddha" teases the lion much to the excitement of the spectators.

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A "laughing Buddha" shakes the hand of CCMS School Principal

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Dance troupe carrying the finished craft (a Dragon) by the skilfull performers for the appreciation of the school principal and Board of Directors.

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Skilfully crafted Dragon made from fruits and vegetables to usher in the Year of the Dragon

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AWAKENING THE LION 2

Time sure flies! It appears the last time I took pictures of the traditional eye-dotting ceremony at Chung Ching Middle School was in 2008 and I can’t recall the reasons for missing 2009 & 2010. This year, the lion awakening story continues with attention to finer moments more than just lions strutting their stuff! The lions are a big hit with the kids who couldn’t keep their hands off the lions. All images shot using EOS 5D Mark II and 50mm f/1.4.

MORE PICTURES FROM THE CCMS 2011 EYE-DOTTING CEREMONY

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Love the gentle glow from the fire and melting wax droplets while exposure retains discernible shades of the flame from the Chinese candles.

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Traditionally, chicken blood was used in the ceremony. Today, in keeping with the symbolism of this tradition, red dye is used in place of blood.

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The lions are a big hit with the kids who couldn't keep their hands off the lions.

AND ON THE 15TH DAY

… the lion danced for the last time this year! Like bees to honey, the kids at Chung Ching primary school in Seria got all buzzed up this last day of the Chinese New Year celebration. The lions performed in one classroom after another to the echoes of the drum downstairs.

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© Jan Shim Photography

As soon as the lion made it downstairs, kids swamped to touch the lions head grabbing everything they can. I remember how certains bits would come off the lion’s head during a performance that kids would fight to get them afterwards. Interestingly, a passer-by whom I’d noticed standing among the crowd began tossing candies in the air much to the delight of the kids who was for a moment distracted by this improptu display of generousity.

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© Jan Shim Photography

Mandarin oranges, a popular choice of diversion leading up to the centrepiece where traditionally more mandarins and pamello are used. This is where the lion performer demonstrates his skill in carving the fruit into an ornamental display!

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© Jan Shim Photography

A school teacher showing her appreciation as the lion devouvered the bait. A feat no less challenging given how small the classroom door is.

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© Jan Shim Photography

This isn’t the last of the lion dance performances for the year. I am aware of two other events that are still celebrating Chinese New Year with promise of more lion dances, one being this Sunday at the Brunei Shell Recreation Club which starts 7pm and another on the 27th, the HSBC SPRING DINNER!

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