The Asian Student Association (ASO) celebrated the Lunar New Year Saturday at Hillcrest Church of Christ, welcoming the Year of the Rabbit on the Chinese Zodiac calendar. The event was supported by the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Office of International Students And Visiting Scholars with a goal of bringing everyone together to experience different cultures and foods.
Grijesh Shrestha, sophomore computer science major from Kathmandu, Nepal, said this event is one of the best ways to accomplish this goal.
“This is our biggest event of every year and a way to bring people together,” said Shrestha, treasurer of ASO. “We hope to teach people about different cultures and tastes, which they might not have been able to experience growing up. For many international students who are unable to have food they grew up with in Abilene, this would be a little taste of home.”
Lunar New Year is the first day of the lunar calendar and the story behind the tradition includes the beast, Nian, who would terrorize this village every night. These villagers sought out council from a wiseman who explained the Nian feared fire, loud noises and the color red.
dvisor to both the Asian Students Organization and the Indian Culture Association, Daniel Ooi, explained this tradition and how it relates to the way it’s celebrated today.
“One night, when Nian arrived, the villagers were ready with red clothing, cymbals, firecrackers and things of the like–and they scared Nian away,” Ooi, associate director of the McNair Scholars Program and adjunct instructor for the language and literature department, said. “This is why Chinese New Year celebrations often involve the above three elements. Many of these traditions also revolve around inviting prosperity.”
Sunrise catered Chinese food for the event and the International Baptist Church provided Korean food free of charge. The evening included a welcome speech from the ASO President, Jeongah McIntyre, musical performances by students and other cultural activities.
Senior psychology major from Edinburg, Damaris Cantu, said she really enjoyed the event.
“My favorite part of the event would probably be when all the tables did an activity where each table was given a platter with vegetables and fish,” Cantu said. “On the platter was a small container of peanuts, lime and duck sauce. Since I was the oldest at the table, I was in charge of inserting the ingredients, each having their own symbolism. Then we tossed the vegetables with our utensils and ate from the salad. That activity was an overall fun experience, especially with the people I was surrounded with.”
Before the formation of ASO, the Chinese Student Association would host a Chinese New Year celebration. Last year, McIntyre started ASO and they hosted the first Lunar New Year celebration in 2022. ASO hopes to make this an annual tradition. Ooi said he hoped attendees would be able to take something away from the event.
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