By Our Staff Reporter
GUWAHATI, February 19: From traditiol dishes like Cokcaich, Canchang, Swan Che and Fachang Thong to chips made of fish, prawns, noodles and others – the Chinese origin people in Assam today kicked off the Chinese New Year celebrations with their dining tables groaning under gastronomical delights.
Around 50-Chinese origin families living in Assam celebrated their New Year festival ‘Co Lin’ with kith and kin. In keeping with tradition, they offered cooked fish, chicken, pork and home-made beer at the Almighty’s altar on the occasion.
Chinese New Year celebrations, also known as the Spring Festival, start on the 23rd day of the 12th lur month of the Chinese calendar. Today is the first day of the first month of Chinese New Year “Chang Yo”.
In 2015, the Chinese are ushering in the Year of Sheep.
Based on the cycle of the moon, the date changes every year and each year is identified with one of 12 animals to express zodiacal time. The choice of these animals is based on a tale from Chinese mythology that has been given several interpretations.
One version is: The rat was assigned the job of inviting a variety of animals to a banquet to meet the Jade Emperor, who rules heaven and earth. At this special meal, the animals would have a chance to be selected for the zodiac signs.
The animals who showed up found a place in the calendar. The cat apparently never found a spot because the rat fooled it into believing that the banquet was one day later; hence, since that day the rat and the cat have been enemies for eternity.
According to the Chinese zodiac, this year will be the ‘Year of Sheep’ and the fate of the people and the newborns will be influenced by the animal. There is also a belief that, on the New Year eve, the most powerful spirits ‘Lung and Fung’ (Dragons) crossed swords with each other. The Chinese people worship the symbol of the dragons to get their blessings on this occasion.
“The occasion is celebrated elaborately in Kolkata every year, but as there are less Chinese people in Assam, the festivities are confined to individual homes,” said John Wong, secretary, Chinese Welfare Society of Assam.
There are approximately 50 Chinese origin families in Assam, with 26 families living in Tinsukia alone.
It is learnt that there are many more Chinese-origin families who have adopted Assamese mes and titles, especially after 1962.
As the Chinese people mingled with various Indian tribes, they have no specific affiliation regarding religion. They generally follow Buddhism. There are some who follow Christianity and Hinduism too. They offer the same obeisance to Indian and Chinese religious customs, because they believe they have both Chinese and Assamese identities.
The forefathers of most of these families came to Assam at the time of the Second World War, while some were brought earlier in the 19th century by British colonialists to supervise the works in tea gardens. In course of time, they settled here and accepted Assamese language and culture.
The language of the Chinese-origin people in Assam is quite complex and different compared to other dialects of the State. Their language is neither Chinese nor Assamese or some other local dialect. The Chinese-Assamese people speak a dialect which is a mix of Tea tribe and Hindi tongues. They use words from various other languages as well, which has again given rise to a different dialect altogether.