Every year during the Mid Autumn festival, the Nhi Phu Club (二府会馆, Er Fu clan association) presents residents and tourists in Cholon Chinatown, Ho Chi Minh with a major extravaganza featuring Nanyin, 南音, lion dance, 舞狮, dragon dance, 舞龙, eight immortals, 八仙, and green lion dance, 青狮.
Green Lion dance (L) and Lion, Dragon and 8 Immortals (R)
The Mid Autumn festival falls on the same day as the birthday of the temple deity so it is always a double celebration. This year, the crowds began arriving around early evening to attend prayers and to reserve the best seats for the performance.
As the outdoor stage was being prepared, a heavy rain began pouring and the organizers moved the prayer ceremony inside the temple. They started with a prayer in the main hall followed by Nanyin performance in the inner courtyard.
The Nanyin performers consisted of a group of elderly performers who were definitely Nanyin experts alongside a troupe of young Nanyin musicians, the new generation disciples. Although totally unplanned, it was an interesting experience enjoying Nanyin music with the rain as the backdrop and as a curtain separating the performers from the audiences.
The rain stopped towards the end of the Nanyin performance allowing the rest of the events to continue in the open courtyard.
A group of artistes dressed as the Eight Immortals from Chinese legends greeted the crowds and after them was another group of young artistes dressed as armies of the Dragon King.
After this was a dragon dance with four dragons drifting and flying around the courtyard complete with foggers and confetti as special effects. The dragons looked as if they were drifting amidst clouds generating applauses from the hundreds of audiences now surrounding the courtyard.
After the dragon dance was the lion dance. There were southern lions, northern lions and even the green lions. Many audiences gave their favorite lions a red packet as a reward and encouragement. The decision makers seemed to be the kids. They hold on to the red packets while their parent held them up in the air close to the lions who received the red packet through its mouth.
After the performance, the front courtyard was glittering with layers confetti. Many visitors were taking pictures of each other while children were busily and happily collecting confetti to throw into the air and at each other.
Nhi Phu Club’s Mid Autumn extravaganza was a highly entertaining and highly educational event for the Cholon residents, tourists and especially for the Chinese community. The adults prayed while the children learn about their cultural heritage through the performances as well as through their participation in the performances.
Event date: 3rd October 2009, Saturday
15th day of the 8th lunar month, year of the ox