Chinese New Year ~ Calcutta
Chinese New Year Celebrations
~ Calcutta (Kolkata) ~
The Chinese settlement of Calcutta dates back to to 1780s when a trader named Tong Achew set up his sugar factory near present day Budge-Budge. The place today is known as Achipur, after Tong Achew. The Chinese soon deserted Achipur and headed for Calcutta (Kolkata), where they are presently settled in Tangra & Tiretta Bazar regions.
The Calcutta Chinese community celebrates the Chinese New Year in traditional way complete with dragon & lion dances at Tangra & Tiretta Bazar.
The celebration starts several days before the new years day with stage shows set up at both Tiretta Bazar & Tangra. On the day of the Chinese New Year dragon & lion dances are held on the streets of Tiretta Bazar & Tangra.
On the Sunday after the Chinese New Year the entire Chinese community of Calcutta converges at Achipur (near Budge – Budge) to pay tribute to Tong Achew, the first Chinese settler of India.
The celebration in Calcutta (Kolkata) starts about a week before the new years day. Giant stages are set up at both Tangra & Tiretta Bazar. In Tiretta Bazar a huge stage is set up at Chattawalla Guli, the venue of famous chinese breakfast. Dragon & lion dances and various cultural programes are performed on the stage.
Dances are also held on the street accompanied by loud firecrackers. No Chinese festival is complete with Chinese food. Makeshift food stalls sell mouth watering sausages, dim sums and noodles.
On the morning of the Chinese New Year the Chinese of Calcutta assembles in the Chinese Temples of Tiretta Bazar and Tangra. Candles are lit and soon the lion and dragon dance starts in the temple compound or in front of it.
The dancers soon make their way outside the temple making their way through the winding lanes of Calcutta’s China Town, accompanied by beating of drums and cymbles and not to mention the loud firecrackers.
The dancers make their way to different Chinese business establishment, shops, eateries and even some house hold. The lion heads out for the the piece of lettuce suspended high above.
The two dancers, managing the lion, after some efforts finally get hold of the piece of lettuce containing money wrapped in red paper, decorated with Chinese calligraphy.
The entire Tiretta Bazar area comes alive as difference groups of dancers through the winding lanes going as far away as Bow Barracks. Occasionally the long dragon, managed by six dancers, can be seen making its way through the lanes and by – lanes of Tiretta Bazar.
Similar activities are carrie out in Tangra, Kolkata’s New Chinatown during the Chinese New Year.
- The photos are shot at Tiretta Bazar (2010 & 11) and Achipur (2010)
- The Chinese New Year 2012 is scheduled on 23 Jan and is the “Year of Dragon.”
Reference from my Website & Blog:
- Photos of Chinese New Year, Calcutta & Achipur
- Travelogue on Achipur
- Chinese Temples of Tirett Bazar
- Chinese New Year, Achipur
List of my Blog entries on Calcutta (Kolkata)