Millions of Chinese have travelled home to celebrate the traditional spring festival – The Chinese New Year . The preparations that begin weeks earlier include reminiscing and pondering upon the indigenous rituals which strengthen the bond of Chinese at home and abroad. For those who cannot travel home, the wistfulness is compensated by receiving and sending traditional gifts to loved ones at home. In Pakistan, the Chinese New Year is a unique affair which, as the years go on, continues to strengthen the bond between the Chinese community in Pakistan and the Pakistani nation.

China and Pakistan enjoy a healthy relationship based on mutual trust and reliance. This has paved way to progress in all walks of life, and encouraged a co-cultural harmony. It’s because of this, Chinese-Pakistanis, including those who over the years have moved abroad, have strong roots in this country. Chinese immigration during the 1940s to Pakistan occurred due to unrest in China, and generations old Chinese testify to the fact that Pakistan, because of its hospitality and brotherly love, has now become their second home.

This year, the Chinese New Year which is subject to the sighting of the moon, fell on January 28. It is the most awaited year of the Rooster which promises energy, flamboyance and flexibility. But the celebrations began on the eve of January 27 and shall continue for a week. While many made their way back home to China, for the Chinese born and bred in here, Pakistan remains their home. Lilith Chu, young Chinese from Pakistan working in Dubai, packed her bags and rushed home to be with her family. Emotional, nostalgic and sentimental – this time of the year as is overwhelming for anyone at Eid or Christmas. Only here for a week Lilith expressed herself as saying, “By birth, I am a Pakistani. I hold a green Pakistani passport. My whole family is settled in Pakistan, and it has being over 30 years now. The idea of a Chinese new year in my family tradition is to celebrate it as a whole family. That’s why we try to come to one mutual area where we can celebrate it as one family – and that’s here at home. We have a lot of families coming from China itself and across world to meet their families here since we have our roots here. There isn’t anywhere else we’ll go for celebrating the New Year.”

Lilith further explained, “We firmly believe that you celebrate as one family on this day. It is how we welcome and embrace the coming year – closely knitted as one family. We believe it to be essential as it’s important to start the New Year and luck with your family as it’s the family which is your greatest wealth. For those who cannot make home, thanks to the internet for keeping everyone connected and close.”

Chinese New Year in Pakistan is celebrated with great zeal and zest since the Chinese have become a growing community that holds much significance. Various events on diplomatic and cultural level were held to mark the celebrations. An exclusive event was held at Lahore Alhamra Arts Complex which highlighted the Chinese culture and values showcased by different local and Chinese artists. The Chinese artists sang Chinese folklores, and their version of popular the Pakistani national song Jeway Jeway Pakistan received standing ovation.

Event at the Chinese embassy in Pakistan

For the large majority in Lahore, a 3-day celebration was held at Hsin Kuang presided by Consul General of China in Lahore Long Dingbin. “Celebrations begin a day earlier and carry on for 3 days basically, whereas, the holiday celebrations last for a week. It typical begins with a dinner or lunch with the Chinese consulate followed by a dinner with our President and Prime Minster. The final event is the community gathering where everyone joins in for thanksgiving and prayers for the coming year. The dinner includes authentic traditional Chinese cuisine that are carefully chosen in accordance with the New Year customs. Celebrations also include traditional Chinese dances, especially the mandatory dragon and lion dance which symbolizes wealth and luck for the year ahead,” said Vicky Zhuang Yi-Yin a Pakistani born Chinese.

One of the most cherished traditions is gifting a red envelop which passes luck and prosperity from the giver to the recipient. The ‘Red Envelop’ is customarily given from an elder to the younger. In this tech-driven, modern world of contemporary mindset, the Chinese remain loyal and devoted to their beliefs. As Vicky explained, “It is about the blessings you receive in the form of luck and prosperity through your families that pass the Red Envelops from one generation to another. We may think we are too old for it, or that it's primitive, but they say when elders of the family give you a Red Envelope, he is bestowing upon you, his blessings and prayers for their younger ones, for their future wealth, and for their life ahead.

Chinese New Year at Hsin Kuang

Celebrations in Pakistan, of course, differ from that in China where the preparations and post-New Year events continue the entire season. Though it may be considered a miniature version of actual festivity, Chinese New Year holds the same value and significance as any celebration in the world. In Pakistan, all mandate traditions are carried out. Most importantly, whatever the size of the celebrations, it strengthens the community bond. The Chinese community is well-cherished by the people of Pakistan. Be it mega projects like CPEC or lifestyle and cuisine business, the Chinese community’s loyalty is impeccable. Individuals and communities such as Peaceful Pakistan took to social media to wish the Chinese community on this special occasion.

As we continue to celebrate the year of the Rooster, we wish the Chinese community peace, prosperity and blessings for the year ahead. Pak-China friendship Zindabad!