Asia, a continent that homes not only the multi-lingual bodies from different cultural settings but also the different traditional backgrounds each country houses. The geographic locations, traditional values and collective emotions of the countries contributed to shaping their beliefs which eventually lead into formation of the variety of cultures which have led to the birth of different Asian cultural festivals we see today. Some of the top Asian cultural festivals are discussed below:
Pohela Boishakh, Bangladesh
The New Year Celebration following the Bengali Calendar is undoubtedly the most anticipated and widely celebrated in Bangladesh. The Pohela Boishakh, literally meaning the “the first of Boishakh” marks the first day of the first month of the Bengali New Year.
This is a celebration of the welcoming of a new year and a beginning of summer which brings color and life into the heart of Bangladesh. The mornings starting with “Shobha Jatra” carries giant art structures of animals and birds and random things, all handmade and hand painted with vivid colors. People enjoy this day going out with their loved ones dressed in traditional clothes like sarees, salwar kameez, punjabi etc.
The color associated with this festival is red, which may represent both the heat of the season and also the vibrancy that the season brings along with. Hence, on roads and in homes, there’s an array of people wearing the color red in some way. People attend various traditional functions that are scheduled in many different parts of each city.
This is a celebration of the welcoming of a new year and a beginning of summer which brings color and life into the heart of Bangladesh.
These functions showcase traditional plays, dramas, Bengali folk songs, folk dance performances, folk instrumental music performances etc which people indulge in. The food of this festival takes the center stage as it brings along a variety of tasting palate to the consumers.
“Panta Ilish” is the star of the show, served as the main course of the day at every home and restaurant. Accompanied with different types of “bhorta” literally meaning “mashed” state of vegetables and “shutki” (dried fish). The scrumptious combination of the food appears and satisfy as heavenly on this day to the eaters. Other foods that reside with these delicacies are the fish curries, khoi, batasha, nimki etc. Pohela Boishakh, with its vibrant colors and season, brings people the ultimate joy of celebrating life. It is the epitome of celebration in the Bengali and Bangladeshi culture.
Chuseok, South Korea
What makes Asia so unique is its land fertility, mostly in the south and eastern parts of the continent. Most of the tropical climates falling under the equator lie in the Asian demographics. This undoubtedly has given birth to the celebration of the newly harvested crops that sees the light of day in these fertile lands. Such a tradition is the Chuseok Festival of South Korea.
This undoubtedly has given birth to the celebration of the newly harvested crops that sees the light of day in these fertile lands.
This festival takes place on the 15th of the eighth month when the full moon of harvest is seen (mostly during autumn). This is the day when family member get-together around the memorial for their ancestors called “charye” and present with newly harvested rice, alcohol and rice cakes shaped like a half-moon.
The rest of the day, people spend it with their loved ones in the festivities’ games and dances, dressed in their traditional clothing called the hanbok. Food ranges from fried fritters of fish, meat and fresh harvest vegetables. Songpyeon, a stuffed rice cake, is another must-have in this festival that is found in the streets of the country and also made in homes. Of course, to top all the festival glory, South Korean festivals would be incomplete without their traditional alcohol called “soju”. This festival brings life into homes and celebrates the blessing of food and loved ones in life.
Chinese New Year, China
The biggest known festival that exists in Asia is the Chinese New Year. Following the lunar calendar, this festival caters to the prayers to their deities, celebration of long life and staying astray from the devil’s path. The calendar system has a cycle of 12 years and each year represents a unique animal. 2018 is known as the Year Of The Dog. This festival is also known as the Spring Festival as it takes place in the early springtime of China.
The festival commemorates the beginning of a healthy and prosperous starting for the Chinese people and also brings together the compassion of family celebrations in the busiest times. .
White rice is mainly eaten to start off the day of the Festival. Fishes, mandarins and long noodles are believed to be the center foods of this festival. Fireworks is also another main attraction of the festival which is believed to keep the devils at bay.
All day, people visit the temples to pray for their deceased and also for their own and their loved one’s well-being. This festivals also stands responsible for reuniting the families across the country since it is the longest holiday in China. The people also follow a tradition of giving others money in a red envelope. This exchange can happen between boss-employee or elderly-younger ones from the family. The festival commemorates the beginning of a healthy and prosperous starting for the Chinese people and also brings together the compassion of family celebrations in the busiest times.
Festivities come with great reasons and serve a greater purpose of well-being, good health, and thankfulness. The Asian cultures house an extraordinary combination of Asian cultural festivals that fill people with content and gratitude during the celebrations.
Written by Eera Anjum