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Chiang Mai China Town celebrates the Year of the Dog

FERC’s February 18 Gala aims to get 100 children into school

Chiang Mai China Town celebrates the Year of the Dog

Preeyanoot Jittawong

Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor addresses the gathering, at the opening ceremony.

There are many Chinese festivals, but the one that everybody in the world knows best, is the Chinese New Year Festival, which this year, starts on January 29th. It is a celebration similar to the Thai New Year festival, with everyone, Chinese and Thai alike, joining in the festivities. Almost eight million citizens in Thailand are Chinese and many more have Chinese blood and for them and their Thai brothers and sisters the Chinese New Year is the most important festival of the year.

Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai is always a very lively occasion and this years plan-
ned celebrations, entitled the 5
th Chiang Mai China Town,

Acrobatic act on 15 meter high bamboo platform.

was organized to honor King Bhumibol on the occasion of the 60th. anniversary of his ascension to the throne.

As usual, the festivities started with the parading of the dragon and lion, performing their wonderful gymnastic contortions to the clash of cymbals and Chinese music, this event being prepared and sponsored by the Chinese-Thai Peoples Club.

The parade started from Thapae Gate, proceeding on to Witchayanon Road,
then down Laojo alley into Warorot Market. There were huge crowds gathered to enjoy the spectacle and shops in Warorot Market were festooned with Chinese lanterns and pieces of red cloth, helping to make the event a colorful and festive occasion. Once again, the Chinese-Thai people of Chiang Mai demonstrated to all, by their enthusiasm and creativity in their New Year festival, that their culture and customs were in no danger of even diminishing, let alone dying out!

Image of King Bhumibol carried in the front of the parade.

Chinese New Year celebrations are similar in many respects to the idea of bringing in the New Year in western countries, the universal feeling everywhere being, “Out with the old and in with the new”. New Year has been celebrated for a long time, with no one able to pinpoint quite when it started, but everyone generally agrees that it is to celebration to herald the coming of the new spring season, which, in the case of the Chinese New Year, the party lasts for 15 days. Preparations for the event start about a month before the big day, (roughly the same as the Christmas festival of western people). Households are scrupulously cleaned from top to bottom and from front to back to remove bad luck. Windows and doors are freshly painted with the favored color being red, a color of great cultural significance to the Chinese. People decorate their homes and shops with strips of red paper, on which are inscribed good luck messages and resolutions for the coming year, for example, be happy, be rich and have a long life.

“Pae Yim” Smiling face and lion, symbols of Chinese New Year.

During the Chinese New Year, Chinese-Thai people like to wear red clothes, believing this color to bring good luck, and wearing black and white clothes is strictly forbidden, as these are only worn for funeral ceremonies. Elders present the children with “Ang Pao” (a small red bag) for them to be healthy, hap-py and successful. Where westerners utter the usual greeting “Happy New Year”, Chinese people always bless with the words “Sin Jia Yoo I Sin Nee Huad Chai Sin Jeung Roo I Son Nian Fa Chai” meaning, “All dreams come true in the New Year and be rich in the New Year”.

Girls wearing Chinese costumes joining the parade.

The opening ceremony was presided over by Peung Reung Tong, Chinese Consul in Chiang Mai, and other dignitaries present were Pakorn Buranupakorn, secretary to the Minister of Justice; Boonlert Buranupa-korn, Chiang Mai mayor and Pornchai Jitnavasathien, Chiang Mai deputy mayor.

Chinese people crowding in to make their purchases.

(From right) Peung Reung Tong, Chinese Consul in Chiang Mai; Pakorn Buranupakorn, secretary to the Minister of Justice; Boonlert Buranupakorn, Chiang Mai mayor and Chinese-Thai children join the activities.

Red lanterns beautifully decorated in front of gold ornament shops.

Golden dragon, one lucky symbol.

The parade starts to celebrate Chinese New Year in Chiang Mai.

FERC’s February 18 Gala aims to get 100 children into school

Annelie Hendriks

Three scholarship girls who are going to success-fully finish the three years vocational school and requested to continue their study two more years at a vocational college. Will it be possible for them?

On Saturday, February 18, 2006, FERC (Foundation for the Education of Rural Children) will hold its seventh annual fund raising gala at Baan Wongmalee in Chiangmai. A great evening is planned. You will enjoy an international buffet dinner, live entertainment, silent and live auctions of goods and services, a raffle, fireworks and an amazing door prize - all for the admission price of 1,500 baht.

Discussion about the dormitory Muang Keud with the department of education were held by Annelie Hendriks and Ratana Keunkeaw from FERC.

Where will the proceeds go? Not that far from Chiang Mai, a one and a half hour drive in the direction of Mae Taeng to the village of Muang Keud. The primary school holds 104 pupils, is small, has good toilets, a very simple canteen and at first sight there is not much wrong with it. However there is no space and no money for the construction of a dormitory, so seven young boys live in a simple shed at a nearby the temple and 13 children are commuting everyday for four to 12 kilometers away by songtaew. At 400 baht per family per month for transportation, only one child per family can afford to attend school. School officials believe that about one hundred children are left behind.

The suspension bridge the children have to cross everyday.

This is where FERC wants to help by building a big dormitory for 100 children, with a small kitchen, toilets and showers. The dormitory will include a room for teachers so that the children will have caregivers. And FERC also wants to install a water purification system so that the children will have healthy water, and hopefully raise money for scholarships and books.

We hope you will find it in your hearts to help us help these children. Without you, they may not receive an education, and without an education, we all know their future is bleak.

An example of a dormitory built previously by FERC at another school, which enabled many children to receive their much needed education.

Muang Keud village where the primary school is located.