GEORGE TOWN: Children are usually more than happy to just soak up the atmosphere at home during Chinese New Year.
But for some, prancing around in lion dance costumes matters more than anything else.
One of them, nine-year-old Brandon Lim, is looking forward to performing with his troupe of young performers during this year’s festive period.
“One thing that really excites me is the ang pow money that I’ll be getting. I was told the amount will definitely be more than what I would be getting at home.
“It’s also a chance for me to perform with my friends in front of big crowds at different venues. It will be fun,” enthused the Year Three pupil.
Lim believes he will not be missing home or the special food during the celebration, saying that he will get to enjoy them some other time.
Even his parents, he said, were fine with him skipping the celebrations, as they knew that he would be safe and well taken care of.
Lim said normally, he would just sit around at his grandmother’s home during Chinese New Year while the adults went about their chores.
“The situation was worse during the Covid-19 pandemic as we did not get to go anywhere or do anything,” said Lim, who has been practising the lion dance since September last year, training thrice weekly for three hours at a time.
“We learn to play the drums and all the roles in the troupe. We take turns to don the costumes,” he said.
Besides instilling self-confidence, picking up the art has also helped Lim garner some attention at school.
“My teachers have been asking me about it and telling me to share my experience with my classmates. It is nice when they praise me,” he admitted.
Another young practitioner, Koid Jun Hong, 11, says he just started learning the art more intensely a mere month ago.
“After sitting at home due to the pandemic for the past few years, I look forward to performing this Chinese New Year,” he said.
Like Lim, Koid is also happy at the prospect of more ang pows.
“I will save the money but if there is a toy I like, then I may consider buying it,” he shared.
Penang Hong Guan Cultural Association group leader Law Choon Lim said the group had two troupes on their roster — one for younger children and teenagers, and another comprising older performers.
“It’s high time to recruit newbies, as most of my students have grown up and become leaders in our association.
“We want to try out a team comprising kids as young as nine. We want them to learn the cultural part of lion dance as it is a dying art.
“It teaches them how to work as a team, and support each other as well. It is a good life skill,” he said.
Most of the troupe members come from children of association members, while the rest are their friends or schoolmates, he said.