Jakarta Jumping with Lions

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WITH the year of Ox approaching, venues like shopping malls, restaurants and hotels are now making the capital city become more happening. This due to the fact that Chinese New Year has hitherto been celebrated by not only Chinese ethnic, but also other ethnics and races across the archipelago.

One of the prestigious malls in town, Senayan City Mall is now throwing a spectacular bash in welcoming the year of ox. The jovial event, taking place on January 16-20, features an array of attractions such as Chinese Traditional Music, Lantern Dance and Fan and Ribbon Dance, to name a few. “Carrying the flag of unity in diversity, the mall uniquely presents a collaboration of Chinese ballet and ethnic Papua dance during this year Chinese New Year festivity,” Marketing director of Senayan City, Veri Y. Setiady, said. “We have included a one-of-a-kind performance during this celebration where the Chinese and Papuan traditions met.”

Ira, one of the mall’s visitors, admitted enjoying the convivial festivity of welcoming the year of Ox even though she is not a Chinese ethnic. “The lantern dance and kentongan creates a unique collaboration of Chinese ballet and ethnic Papua dance. This spectacular merrymaking really makes the mall become more attractive,” she commented.

Furthermore, a number of exhibitions showcasing a variety of products from organic food to jewelry attract many visitors. The South Jakarta’s Senayan City also presents fortune teller booth along with its accessories like fortune cookies and lucky angpao, all of which are exclusively designed for HSBC cardholders.

Going further to the western part of the city, Taman Anggrek Mall is back with its annual series of attractions. Having themed Nian Nian You Yu, literary means there’s more fish every year, the festivity started on January 14 and is now being held until February 1.

The words Nian Nian You Yu itself can also be translated to being prosperous. But here at Taman Anggrek Mall, the phrase refers to lucky koi fish pond where the nine fish are exhibited in a 12-sqm indoor swimming fish. Both koi fish and the number nine are a symbol of prosperity, luck and longevity.

In addition, there are barongsai (dragon dance) and liong (lion dance) performances, both of which go around the mall’s corridor every Friday, Saturday and Sunday at schedule time. Other attractions are eminent Chinese marshal art Shaolin Wushu and Kungfu, as well as Chinese traditional dances like San Ing and The Mongolians Jubilation.

“I really like the liong attraction at this mall, though this lion dance is somewhat different from what I once saw in Shanghai, China last year,” one of the mall’s visitors remarked adding, “There are various ways of how lion dance is performed throughout Asia, even within mainland China.”

Being the most popular Chinese New Year attractions, Barongsai and Liong dances will spread the merry spirit around Shangri-La Hotel and its restaurants on Chinese New Year’s eve. However, this year event will be a different one as the hotel will present the award-winning Dragon Phoenix dancers performing the southern lion dance and the Huang Ho Sai dancers with their northern lion dance. The dancers will go around the hotel, from one restaurant’s table to another and hotel’s offices.

Aside from this, celebrating the arrival of the year of Ox is incomplete without the elegant and colorful decorations with red and gold as the most favorite colors. While red symbolizes happiness, gold represents wealth.

Having both red and gold colors, lantern decorations at Shangri-La Hotel are respectively adorned at the lobby, Shang Palace and SATOO restaurant. “I especially like the hotel’s decoration of angpao hanging from pussy willow. It really creates a nuance of genuine China,” Hugh, a hotel patron, asserted.

Shang Palace will be the heart of the hotel’s Chinese New Year celebration as this hotel’s Cantonese Chinese restaurant offers patrons three spring festival menus for both lunch and dinner from January 12 to February 9. Yu Sheng, a variety of salad served with raw fish, is the most favorite dish served at the restaurant during Chinese New Year. And there will be a live Chinese music on Chinese New Year’s eve. At SATOO restaurant, the Chinese New Year menu will be more into a culinary voyage featuring a variety of delightful dishes served at the 12 open kitchen stations.

It is understood, thus, wishing a happy and prosperous year will not be in complete delight without spoiling your palate. Enjoying the favors of the season in contemporary setting fine-dining can really put the festive night in a jovial mood. Being a combination of fine-dining eatery with comfortable lounge and bar area overlooking the view of Jakarta’s Commercial Business District; Pacific Restaurant Lounge is another ideal venue to welcome the year of Ox with friends and family. Sitting on the sixth floor of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel at Pacific Place, the venue has special selections for Chinese New Year eve dinner on Jan. 25 as well as Chinese New Year brunch and dinner the next day.

“The restaurant’s Chinese Chef Ken Lee and his team have prepared an impressive spread. Sea Bass in Black Bean Sauce and King Prawns in Plum Sauce are only a few of the selections being offered,” said Dewi Damayanti, public relations manager of the Ritz Carlton Hotel, Pacific Place.

She furthered that this special dining event will set a distinctive mood with the live entertainment of Chinese traditional music duo “Guzheng and Erhu.” Not to mention the attraction of Barongsai that is scheduled at 7 p.m. during both evenings. Regardless of where you dine-in, celebrating the year of Ox should include having Nian Gao, the sticky cake that symbolizes fortune. Nian Gao is only available during Chinese New Year festivities. According to the Chinese traditional myth, the sweeter the Nian Gao, the better prosperity one will get. (Aulia R. Sungkar)  

Jakarta GLOBE, January 22, 2009  

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