Some Asian American communities are cautiously resuming Lunar New Year celebrations in-person to welcome the Year of Tiger — as the coronavirus pandemic continues. Especially with the rise in anti-Asian hate crimes over the last two years, the opportunity to gather with friends and family and reflect on last year is particularly significant.
Thay An Tri, a monk at the Chua Dieu Ngu Buddhist Temple in Westminster, says faithfuls and members of the OC Vietnamese community will celebrate by lighting firecrackers. There will also be dragon dance performances at midnight and a concert of Vietnamese music.
“Firecrackers [have] a meaning of chasing away the bad luck and the evil that is here and hoping for wellness and fortune, health and success for the upcoming 2022 Lunar New Year.”
This year’s event takes on a different meaning for many revelers because most in-person events during the last two Lunar New Years were canceled.
“Unfortunately, we have lost quite a bit of members from the pandemic,” the LA native recalls. “Because most of the elderly visit our temple, we hope that they can continue to gain strength with this new year. And we hope that there is less unfortunate loss.”
This year’s celebration also comes amid a steep rise in Anti-Asian hate in the United States — something that Tri says he has witnessed firsthand.
“Last year, there were six temples specifically that were vandalized, and a few that had money stolen from them, including our temple. Not only that, but from LA and Little Tokyo, there was a temple that was vandalized and set aflame.”
But Tri and his pacifist community want to look to the future while maintaining their gratitude for the outpouring of support after those events.
“All we can simply do is to gain more compassion, [remember] that hatred is just a form of suffering, and that person that is suffering is simply living through the poison of ignorance. We should understand that we're all just human beings in this world. And we always hope to have more understanding and kindness and tolerance between not just all races but all belief systems as well.”