Toronto Hong Luck Kung Fu and Lion Dance and Dragon Dance
Toronto Chinese Lion Dance

Hoi Gong Chinese Lion Dance

The following is a brief description of the proceedings of the "Hoi Gong" ceremony at Hong Luck Kung Fu Club:

The brand new lion is laid in front of the ancestral altar. The lion dance performers go under the lion head. They keep their eyes and mouths shut tightly. They must remain motionless, as the lion has not been given life yet. Traditionally, a priest/monk begins the ceremony by chanting prayers to heavenly gods, and summons the spirit and soul of the lion from the heaven down into the lion. In most cases, an honoured guest of high stature or a notable public figure, i.e. mayor, MP, head of associations, etc., performs the "Hoi Gong" ceremony on the Hong Luck premises.

First, incense is placed on the ancestral altar. Then, a new Chinese calligraphy brush is dipped into a ginger root that contains symbolic blood or red ink cinnabar, known as "ji-sah". The dotting begins with the eyes, ears, nose, mouth and tongue, then continues with the horns down the spine all the way to the tail.

Traditionally, the blood from a live rooster's comb was used in the ceremony. According to Chinese tradition, red is regarded as a life giving colour as well as being associated with good fortune and prosperity. The rooster symbolizes maleness/positive, also known as the yang element, which represents life and power.

A red ribbon is then tied on to the lion's horn, which is a symbol of courage and honour, and signifies that the lion is tamed. The red ribbon is also a reminder for the lion to do only good deeds.

The awakening of the lion continues on with the rolling of the drums, clanging of gong and cymbals, and crackling of firecrackers. At this point, the lion begins to open its eyes, flutters its ears, then the mouth opens and it begins to breathe. The lion then yawns, which is followed by biting and scratching. Upon gaining full awareness, the lion tries to get on its feet in a staggering manner. Initially, the lion moves slowly and sloppily as it is trying to get a feel for its feet. The beating of the drums intensifies a little. As soon as the lion is fully awakened, it performs three ceremonial bows to the altar. In appreciation of its rebirth, the lion then dances happily to the rhythm of the beats of the drum, gong, and cymbals. Now the lion is ready to perform!

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