Due to its rich diversity of cultures and traditions, the Asian region celebrates a vast number of festivals each year. Many of the texts in the Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing (AACLAP) subset make reference to such festivals. These festivals have historical, religious, symbolic and/or local significance.
Some festivals, such as the Chinese New Year and Dragon Boat Races are celebrated throughout the continent (and, increasingly, around the world) while others are particular to one country or one region within a country. The array of customs and rituals associated with the festivals is enormous and range from Songkran which is the Thai New Year, through Hari Raya Aidilfitri which celebrates the end of Ramadan in Malaysia to Thaipusum, a Hindi festival observed by members of the Tamil community. In Japan many different matsuri (festivals or holidays) are conducted to honour local shrines or temples.
While many of the traditions associated with various festivals are still observed changes are also occurring: people watch the festivals on television rather than participate in person, young people celebrate with their friends rather than their families and the use of firecrackers has declined due to the risks involved.
The resources listed here (most of which are from the Asian-Australian Children's Literature and Publishing (AACLAP) subset) only cover a small sample of the festivals of Asia. However, a quick search of online resources will reveal an amazing variety of festivals held each year throughout the Asian region.
The Chinese Zodiac is closely related to the Chinese New Year celebrations. There are many different versions of how the Chinese Zodiac came into being and why particular animals were chosen but all centre on a race staged by the Emperor to determine which animals would feature on the Zodiac. According to legend the cunning rat climbed on the ox's back and crossed the line first followed by (in order) the Ox (or Cow), Tiger, Rabbit (Cat), Dragon, Snake, Horse, Ram (Goat, Sheep), Monkey, Rooster (Chicken), Dog and Pig (Boar). This book tells the tale of this race creating extra interest by having thirteen contestants.
The Chinese New Year is also known as the Spring Festival. One of the customs of the Spring Festival is the Lion Dance. People often mistake this dance with the Dragon Dance. The 'Lions' are usually operated by only two people who are hidden from view within the lion costume whereas in a Dragon Dance many people are required to manipulate the dragon costume. This is usually done using poles. The Lion Dance is an exciting part of the Spring Festival parades.
The Lion Dance is performed in various parts of China to scare away evil spirits. Lion Dances are also traditionally performed in Japan, Taiwan, and Korea. In this story the wearers of the lion costume are able to overcome their fear of a big dog that lives in their street.
Chinese New Year is now celebrated throughout the world, particularly in regions that have a significant Chinese population. This book follows Xiao-mei and her mother as they prepare for Chinese New Year celebrations in Melbourne, Australia.
Chinese New Year is a festival which is now celebrated all around the world; ranging from private family gatherings to spectatcular parades through the streets of some of the major cities of the world. This book recounts the events from the perspective of a small Australian girl of Chinese heritage who fears her friend Lisa may not enjoy the festivities. Fang Fang's fears prove groundless, however, as Lisa loves both the food and the Dragon Dance.
The annual Sydney Chinese New Year Twilight Parade was held on Sunday 2 February 2014. It was a night of floats, lanterns and dances. Sydney's George Street buildings were illuminated by beautiful projections and followed by a spectacular fireworks display in Darling Harbour.
This website from the Australian Government provides a lot of information on Chinese New Year, particularly on how the celebrations are conducted in Australia.
This is one of a number of available folktales which explains the origins of the Moon Festival which is an important festival celebrated in China and Vietnam among other Asian countries and cultures. This particular folktale explains the significance of the lanterns that are an essential part of the Festival.
This is another Vietnamese version of the origins of the Moon Festival. Readers will note that while there are a number of common features to the tales there are also a number of differences. This is the nature of folktales particularly as they were originally oral tales and were often added to or adapted to suit the purposes of the teller or to appeal to a particular audience.
Based on a folktale, the focus of this tale is on how Chang is able to trick the slave trader and thus, save his wife. However, the action is built around preparations for the Moon Festival celebrations and provides readers with an insight into how that festival is (or used to be) celebrated in rural China.
This book, by recounting the similarities and differences between particular customs and festivities as they are celebrated in Australia and India, contributes to the development of intercultural undertandings within each of these countries.
In a similar manner to The Eid Moon and Other Stories, The Scorpion Garden describes various customs and beliefs followed by Muslims of northern India.
The festival to which Tan Yali is looking forward is the Spring Dragon Festival which is celebrated on the second day of the second lunar month of the Chinese calendar when the dragon in charge of rain lifts its head. (In other words the monsoon rains that are so vital for the crops arrive around this time.)This book may be challenging for some readers but it does illustrate the importance of the departed or ancestors to Chinese cultural groups, particularly at festival times.
As suggested in the general abstract at the beginning of this Exhibition, festivals in Asia, as indeed is the case all over the world, range from small localised affairs to nation-wide events. This text chronicles an example of the former which are just as significant for the participants (more so in some cases) than the major events.
Max helps his friend Ping celebrate some Chinese festivals. The first festival of note is Chinese New Year. As is the custom in many other countries, it is important to the Chinese people to thoroughly clean their house for the coming year. At the reunion dinner everyone wears new clothes and the children are given red paper packets with money inside. The Lion Dance is an important part of the festival too. The Festival of the Hungry Ghost is celebrated in the seventh month.The Mid-Autumn (or Lantern or Mooncake) Festival is celebrated after the farmers have harvested their crops. There is lots of food in store and everyone carries a lantern in the parade.
Ahmad takes his friend Max on a journey of discovery to learn all about how Ahmad and his family celebrate the festival of Hari Raya Eidil Fitri (or Hari Raya Puasa as some people call it). This festival celebrates the end of Ramadan which is a period of fasting. The house is cleaned, a feast is prepared and families come together. The children also receive green paper packets which contain money. Max has fun learning about the different Muslim festivals that are celebrated but Ahmad and he enjoys sampling all the food too.
In this book Rani, who is of the Hindu faith, takes Max on a tour of some inportant Hindu festivals. Some of the festival rituals shock Max. For example, during Thaipusam the men pierce their bodies with sharp hooks and needles as acts of faith. The festival of Thimithi is celebrated by running barefoot through a pit of coals. Deepavali Hindu people decorate their houses with rows of lights. The lights symbolise the win of good over evil and welcome Lakshmi, the goddess of wealth, into their homes.
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