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.

Red Dragon down the road

Red Dragon down the road

The Calcutta Chinese community celebrates the Chinese New Year in traditional way complete with dragon & lion dances at Tangra & Tiretta Bazar.

Lion Dance,Chinese New Year, Bow Barracks, Kolkata

Lion Dance,Chinese New Year, Bow Barracks, Kolkata

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.

Lion Dance (Left: Stage, Right: Street)

Lion Dance (Left: Stage, Right: Street)

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.

Left: Lion Dance, Right: Dragon Dance

Left: Lion Dance, Right: Dragon Dance

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 orย  in front of it.

The Lion heads for the Lettuce

The Lion heads for the Lettuce

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,ย  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.

Chinese New Year, Tiretta Bazar (New Chinatown) Kolkata

Chinese New Year, Tiretta Bazar (New Chinatown) Kolkata

Notes:

  • 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:

List of my Blog entries on Calcutta (Kolkata)

  1. February 5, 2012 at 12:35 PM

    This is wonderful. Very interesting to see the Chinese New Year celebrated in another country. I didn’t know about the Chinese population living in India but this makes a lit of sense and of course the two countries are a lot closer that all the way here in North America.

    • February 16, 2015 at 1:24 PM

      Calcutta once had a 20,000 + Chinese population, although it has reduced to 2,000 + now but the small community still holds on to its roots and celebrate festivals like the Chinese New Year, Hungry Ghost Festival and Chinese Moon Festival.

  2. indrani
    February 14, 2015 at 9:27 PM

    Interesting traditions. Hope they continue!

    • February 16, 2015 at 1:23 PM

      Thanks Indrani, Kolkata is full of such interesting tradition

  3. February 15, 2015 at 9:17 AM

    Love the way you depicted it

    • February 16, 2015 at 1:22 PM

      Thanks Datta, the Chinese New Year in 2015 is scheduled on 19 Feb so do visit Tiretta Bazar to witness the grand spectacle of lion and dragon dance.

  4. dNambiar
    February 15, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    I didn’t know Lunar New Year celebrations were so big in Kolkata. Interesting. (And there’s a Chinatown too?๐Ÿ™‚ )
    I’ve attended a couple of these celebrations. Love the lion dances and parades and Taiko beats.

    • February 16, 2015 at 1:21 PM

      Thanks D Nambiar for the comment. Kolkata still had a 2000 + chinese community (prior to the 1962Indo – Chinese War it was 20,000 +) and Chinese New Year is celebrated in a grand way.

      Now special initiative are being taken to promote the event and turn Kolkata’s Chinatown into a tourist spot.

      • dNambiar
        February 16, 2015 at 8:54 PM

        Nice to know.๐Ÿ™‚

    • February 16, 2015 at 9:05 PM

      I have written quiet a few articles of Kolkata Chinatown, do click the link to read all the articles on Kolkata Chinatown https://rangandatta.wordpress.com/tag/calcutta-chinatown/

  5. gopal sikder
    November 2, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    Sir , I am Gopal from bongaon – bagdah – helencha , I need your chinese lion dance troupe for KALI puja bisarjan ….. sir if possible so contract me call / miscall – 9735705598(gopal), have a nice day sir ………

    • November 4, 2015 at 10:27 PM

      Dear Sir wish you a happy Kali Pujo. I am a blogger and don’t have any Chinese Lion Dance troop.

  6. Johnny
    November 16, 2015 at 12:40 AM

    The Dragon dances are not performed any and everytime.. Its done around the time of the festival and some shows and events..

  7. Neha Ghosh
    January 8, 2016 at 11:59 AM

    At what time of the Chinese New Year’s day does these events take place? Is it early in the morning?

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