Rowan Asian Culture Association and RAH kick off Lunar New Year Celebration

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Elizabeth Vu (left), Jason Tran (middle), and Tiara Herpriyonggo (right) greet visitors. - Copy Editor / Victoria McGivern

In honor of the Lunar New Year, the Rowan Asian Cultural Association (ACA) and Rowan After Hours (RAH) hosted a celebration on Jan. 26 from 9 p.m. until 1 a.m.

All students were welcomed to this event. The celebration allowed students to enjoy traditional foods from all across Asia, enjoy crafts and other events, and most importantly, become more educated in experiences shared by various Asian cultures. 

As students waited in a line that wrapped up the stairs of the Chamberlain Student Center, their eyes were drawn to the table of bamboo, colorful hand-made posters, bright red lanterns and a space for arts and crafts. 

Jason Tran, president of the ACA at Rowan and a sophomore biochemistry major, gave some insight into the tradition of Lunar New Year.

“So Lunar New Year, it’s [a] pretty widely celebrated event in Asia. It falls around the first full moon,” Tran said. “The main idea of the near year revolves around the zodiac. There’s 12 animals in the zodiac, this year it’s a rabbit.” 

Not all countries that celebrate Lunar New Year celebrate the same. For example, Vietnam is in the year of the cat. 

At the top of the stairs leading down to the pit, the ACA had a decorated table with information on the club itself, the Lunar New Year and the Chinese zodiac specifically. Elizabeth Vu, wearing áo dài, and Tiara Herpriyonggo, wearing batik, greeted students who came to the event. Áo dài is a traditional Vietnamese garment, and batik is clothing designed with the Indonesian technique of wax resist-dyeing.

Down in the pit, the most popular event was the table of lucky bamboo. Students lined up to take a small bunch of bamboo and a pot. According to RAH officials, they were out of bamboo within an hour. 

Another activity was Ema, a tradition common in Japan. Ema are small wooden plaques that individuals write or draw wishes and prayers on. This is often practiced among followers of Buddhism and Shinto. 

Andrew Mullis is a sophomore psychology major who was at the table explaining the tradition of Ema. He got involved with the ACA last year and has been helping ever since. 

“Traditionally, you could wish for all kinds of things as you would now,” Mullis said. 

Up the stairs of the student center was a space for arts and crafts and food. There were multiple red-sheeted tables with white lanterns that students could decorate with colored pencils and markers. Just before that was a large table with foods including various dumplings, ho fun noodles, white rice and meats.

The night grew livelier as more and more students made their way to the event. Sarah Smith and Brie Brown are both friends who attended the Lunar New Year celebration. Brown is an education major and Smith is a mechanical engineering major. 

“We saw some of the events that were going… like the bamboo [and] we’re gonna do the lanterns next. It just seemed like a fun way to spend the night and take a break from work,” Smith said. 

Smith and Brown were most excited about the “drawing events” which included Ema and the lantern stations. This was their first time attending a Lunar New Year celebration. 

“If we can learn something while having a good time here then yeah, that’d be great,” Brown said. 

As the night concluded, students left with their lucky bamboo, wishes for the new year, and a greater understanding of the Lunar New Year and the cultures which celebrate it. 

“At Rowan, the Asian population isn’t too big,” Tran said. “We’re out here, we’re celebrating and we invite you guys to do the same with us.”

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