Posted in awareness, Concepts, Culture, Events, flashback, Freedom of Expression, Photography, Social Justice

Freedom of Expression – Revival!

Hamsa Hand

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Home decor at Big Lots store

Good morning everyone! Hope you had a wonderful weekend! I looked up a Merriam-Webster dictionary definition of revival to refresh my understanding and this is what popped up:

  • a new presentation or publication of something old
  • renewed attention to or interest in something
  • a return of strength and importance

When I visited my niece, I noticed reoccurring symbol in her artwork that captivated me. An eye in the palm of a hand. She herself didn’t knew what it meant but I was surprised because I’ve suddenly encountered the symbol a lot in my environment. Following my curiosity, I learned that it is known as the “Hand of God” (or Hand of Fatima), an spiritual symbol of protection from the evil eye to bring health, wealth, good fortune, happiness, good luck, and fertility. Ooo la-la!

Hamsa’s earliest origins were in the middle east. Several celebrities (Jennifer Aniston, Heidi Klum, Jay-Z, Gwyneth Paltrow, Madonna) have been spotted wearing it. To learn more about the symbolic significance in various religions, you can visit this website! https://aromantly.com/blogs/spirituality/hamsa-meaning

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Saw this pretty necklace in the jewelry store and got it for my niece

A Visit Back to Yesteryear

Richa shared some wonderful quotes which made me reflect on my past life a bit. I was browsing through LinkedIn today and came across an article about burnout and this section prompted a flashback:

Ten years ago, I had my first experience with burnout in my early years of college. I was in need of delimiting my responsibilities. I was studying many things that I was passionate about in combination with subject matter that I was not interested in. I wasn’t getting as much sleep as I should have and lost weight from not eating properly because I was trying to keep up with my peers and stay on top of my scholarly workload.

One day, a childhood friend once noted and said to me, “You don’t pray often, do you?” I felt a little irked and thought to myself, “How would she know if I prayed in my private time? Can she really assume?” A nagging question suddenly dawned on me though. I wondered if an individual’s interior life of prayer can affect one’s external life.

Despite me conducting so much research on my assignments and looking for answers, I was cognizant of the fact that there are some things that cannot be answered via research database. One night, I lied in my bed and stared at the ceiling. Though I loved what I was doing in college, paradoxically, I also prayed for some way of escape…at least temporarily.

During my time on campus, I became aware of a religious awakening spreading throughout the student body. Many people described it as a “revival”. Speakers shared stories with a sort of fervor that I was unaccustomed to. Many students from a variety of faith backgrounds mingled, sincerely listened to each other, studied together, prayed for one another through their troubles, and offered assistance where needed.

Quenching the thirst of my curiosity, I also read academic books on the history of prayer and the power of intercessory prayer. I also poured over various religious books of wisdom while hanging out in prayer houses. I suddenly became very intrigued by these ancient books. My mom was entertained by my fascination with these dead authors. 😉

After years of the frost of cynicism covering these student lives, I witnessed dramatic transformations and strengthened relationships. Admittedly, it felt unreal to me to experience a beautiful scene of an integrated diverse community where people didn’t just tolerate differences in one another, but wholeheartedly embraced all the quirks within each other. Some developed a fresh zeal to tackle on local problems in society like hunger, diabetes, homelessness, trafficking, etc.

So! That’s what revival has meant to me in my life. What about you? 🙂

Posted in Culture, Dance, Events, Food/Recipes

Lunar New Year

Chinese American artist Kam Mak created the new Forever stamp
Photo Credit: latimes.com

#haiku – A Prosperous Wish

Radiant blossoms
Joy overflowing within
Life begins anew

Hello everyone! Just want to let you know that I’ll be gone for the first week of February celebrating the Vietnamese Lunar New Year (Tet) with my family. In the mean time, I would like to share a few fun facts about the celebration and a hope for a better 2019 year for all of you! There are several countries throughout South, East, and West Asia that celebrate the new year based on the lunar and solar cycle as well.

Lunar New Year is coordinated by the phases of the moon and based on the Chinese lunisolar calendar. So every year the lunar new year falls on a different day. The recent lunar eclipse was fascinating, wasn’t it?

Photo Credit: express.co.uk – Super Blood Wolf Moon Eclipse

Tet celebrates the arrival of spring. It’s an occasion to forget the troubles of the past and hope for a better new year. Typically there is a spring festival called Hoi Xuan. There’s lion dances and festivities in oriental market squares. Some churches celebrate by lighting up Chinese lanterns at night, organize a carnival, play some games, and host entertainment.

Chinese musicians and dancers perform a lion dance under red lantern decorations during the opening ceremony of the Spring Festival Temple Fair at the Temple of Earth in Beijing February 2, 2011. Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, is China’s biggest holiday, giving migrant workers their only chance of returning to their home provinces with gifts and money for the family. It represents the world’s biggest annual mass migration of humans. UPI/Stephen Shaver
Photo Credit: inkxlenses.tumblr.com

Families typically prepare by cleaning up their homes and creating or buying special holiday food such as banh chung, banh tet bamboo soup, sticky rice, sweet coconut/ginger/sesame peanut brittle candies.

New year greetings are typically shared along with giving lucky money to children or elderly in bright red and gold envelopes called “Li Xi”

Photo Credit: Beth Williams

There are variations on how Vietnamese families pay their respects to ancestors that have passed away and invite their spirits to celebrate with them. In my family, we typically set up and decorate an altar like in the picture below.

Photo Credit: waittravel.com

Many women and girls of all ages enjoy wearing colorful and elegant ao dai dresses to celebrate the occasion.

Miss Vietnam 2010 photo shoots with children during Tet season
Photo Credit: english.vov.vn
Photo Credit: news.zing.vn

If you guys are more curious about the language, here are some common Vietnamese Lunar New Year phrases and vocabulary. Pronunciation is another story! 🙂 (Credit: Tumblr.com)

Phrases

  • Chúc Mừng Năm Mới: Happy New Year
  • Cung Chúc Tân Xuân: Gracious wishes of the new spring
    Sống lâu trăm tuổi:  Long life of 100 years (said by children to elders in exchange for lucky money)
  • An khang thịnh vượng: Security, good health, and prosperity
  • Vạn sự như ý: May myriad things go according to your will
  • Sức khỏe dồi dào: Plenty of health
  • Cung hỉ phát tài: Congratulations and be prosperous
  • Năm mới dồi dào sức khỏe: I wish you a healthy new year 
  • Năm mới tấn tài tấn lộc: I wish you a wealthy new year 
  • Năm mới toàn gia bình an: I wish that the new year will bring health to all your family 
  • Vạn sự như ý: All wishes come true 

Vocabulary

  • Tết Nguyên Đán: Vietnamese New Year Lunar Festival
  • Nhận tiền lì xì: to receive “lucky money”
  • Lì xì / tiền mừng tuổi: “lucky money”   
  • đi chùa để cầu …: Go to pagoda to pray for…
  • gói Bánh chưng: Make Chung cake
  • trang trí nhà cửa: Decorate the house
  • Đi chợ hoa: Go to flower market
  • Thăm bà con bạn bè: Visit relatives and friends
  • Xem pháo hoa: Watch fireworks
  • Đường phố được trang trí với những dây đèn đầy màu sắc: streets are decorated with lines of colorful lights
  • Hoa đào: peach blossom
  • Hoa mai: apricot blossom
  • Cây quất: The kumquat tree
  • Gạo nếp: Sticky rice
  • Đậu xanh: Green beans 
  • Mỡ lợn: Fatty pork
  • Chúc Tết nhau: exchange New Year’s wishes  
  • Bao lì xì: red envelope
  • Ăn diện: dress up
  • Đánh bài: play cards
  • Dưa hấu; watermelon 
  • Dừa: coconut
  • Xoài: mango
  • Đu đủ: papaya
  • nhang: incense
  • Bàn thờ: altar
  • Mê tín: superstitious 
  • Điều cấm kỵ: taboo
  • Quét nhà: sweep the floor
  • Vào ngày mùng một Tết: on the first day of Tet 
  • Đưa ông bà: Bid their ancestor farewell
Posted in Music

30-Day Song Challenge: Day 17

Next time I am at a karaoke bar and I were to do a duet with a special someone *cough* 😉 , I would LOVE to sing “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”! I’m giving credit to you, Ms. D! This video sung by Michael Buble and Idina Menzel is so so adorable! ❤ 🙂