A cultural gala featuring musicians and dancers was held to celebrate the Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival at the Pakistan National Council of the Arts (PNCA).
Troupes from the Shaanxi Wenyi Art, Xi’an City Wall Art and orchestra of Xi’an International University presented traditional dances, instrumental music, and songs depicting the ancient Silk Road history, life, culture, colours and frag rances of seasons as well as achievements of modern China in three episodes.
The event, titled: “Moment together across the world”, was organised by the Chinese embassy, the China Cultural Centre and the Shaanxi Council for the Promotion of External Cultural Exchange in collaboration with the Pakistan National Council of the Arts to celebrate the Mid-Autumn Festival, the second most important event after the Chinese New Year.
Moon Rises from Sea
The event started with the first episode “Moon Rises from Sea”. The traditional colourful silk-satin and flying fairy music and dance “Silk Road Imagination” was presented by Xian, Yanan and Zeng Xeuke with a fascinating Silk Road living scroll on the backdrop, depicting the prosperous ancient Chang’an now called Xian city its splendid history and culture, where the ancient Silk Road originated.
‘Plum-Blossoms in Three Movements Melody’ was presented by Bai Jin and Zhang Qi on Guqin and Flute instruments, praising and celebrating the plum blossoms and its fragrance, for it is not afraid of the cold and a symbol of the festival.
A group of girls, led by Qian Jiarui, presented a beautiful dance titled “Jasmine Blossoms”, depicting the season of jasmine, perhaps discovered first in China, with full fragrance and beautiful girls’ romantic live, love and care for nature and flowers. The audience clapped with the movements and melody applauding the performers.
Lovesick and Memories
In the second episode titled: “Lovesick and Memories”, Zhang Ying performed an ancient solo dance “Gentleman’s Livening me Livened” depicting a love and hate story of a young concubine and emperor Tangminghuang, who was 30 years older than the former.
An instrumental melodious music “Spring, River, Flower, Moon, Night” was performed by Xing Fang and Wang Fang on traditional Chinese Pipa and Guzheng instruments, an adaptation from “Sunset and Drum” piece, depicting the beauty of the rivers and mountains, beautiful feelings of people swimming in the Yangtze River in the spring night.
‘Tang style and enchantment’ music and dance were presented by Sun Peng group in bodyguards’ costume depicting the grandeur of Chang’an, the capital of the Tang Dynasty and its power.
Liu Xiaojie, a young singer and actress from Shaanxi province performed “Dragon Characters” and “A Chang’an for You” dances and song. Ms Liu is a member of the Shaanxi Song and Dance Theatre as well as the Shaanxi Provincial Musicians’ Association, shot to prominence for her songs “You and I Forever” sang for Anhui TV play “Grand Wedding” and the song “Crested Ibis” she sang at the First International Crested Ibis Forum. The audience applauded her with clapping.
Qin Culture of Chang’an
In the last episode, Xin Jia presented an Erhu solo dance and enchantment “Capriccio of Qin Opera”, full of drama, showing the simplicity of the people of Qin, in the northeast China which is known for creating the unique loop-style Qin music.
An instrumental ensemble presented “Chang’an Melody” by Xin Jia, Zhang Qi, Wang Fang, and Xing Fang. A mix of contemporary and traditional Chinese elements, the music is very dynamic and enchanting. That was followed by Qin Opera “The Banquet” performed by Qi Jianru, Li Dongfeng, narrating a story of the dictatorship of Emperor Dong Huo during the Han Dynasty in Eastern China, and his adopted son, Lv Bu and how a girl Diaochan seduces them, turns them against each other and subsequently get killed.
In the end, the famous “Royal Court Drum Dance” was performed by Sun Peng, An Na, and group enthralling the audience comprised of Chinese and Islooites.
Pakistani dancers from the National Performing Art Group of the PNCA also performed ‘khathak’ and ‘bhangra’ dances from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Punjab, while a solo classical dance was performed in the Kathak style by Azeem Haidery.
Addressing the audience before the show, Chinese Cultural Counsellor You Yi said the festival is a day for family gatherings and reunion.
Family members get together on this day to enjoy the full moon, which is an auspicious symbol of harmony and prosperity.
He spoke about Pakistan-China ties and said the friendship and mutual understanding between the two nations have increasingly deepened since the establishment of diplomatic ties.
“Let us march forward, hand in hand, to seize the opportunities to create a more beautiful future for our two countries,” Mr You said.
He added that the Chinese nation is one of the world’s most ancient nations and attaches great importance to personal feelings, families, and tradition.
Today, Chinese culture takes root and flourishes in China as well as in Chinese communities abroad, he said.
PNCA Director General Jamal Shah spoke about the diversity of Chinese culture and the increasing cultural ties between the two countries.
He urged Chinese embassy officials to open more cultural centres in all major Pakistani cities to provide an opportunity to the people of Pakistan to understand the great economic and cultural achievements of China.
“Art and Culture are not a luxury, but the necessities of life as these are the best possible vehicles for the exchange of ideas and for bringing people together. Art and culture play an important role in the transformation of a country’s economy and society, prosperity and peace” Mr Shah said.
He also spoke highly about ancient Chinese institutes in Xian and the famous terracotta warrior statues.
Ismail, a student at the National University of Modern Languages, Islamabad, and his friend both hailing from the Xinjiang autonomous province of China seemed very happy to attend the event.
“We enjoyed the music and dance performances of the Chinese and Pakistani artists,” they said and hoped that such events will be arranged frequently that will help bring peoples of the two friendly countries closer.
The history of the festival
The Mid-Autumn Festival is celebrated on the 15th day of the 8th month of the Chinese Gregorian lunar calendar, which falls in September or early October in full moon which in Chinese belief is the symbol of a family reunion. It has been observed as a public holiday since 2008, and this year Sept 24 was the date fixed for the celebration.
Ancient Chinese emperors worshiped the harvest moon in autumn, as they believed that the practice would bring them a plentiful harvest the following year. The term “Mid-Autumn” or appreciating the moon became popular among the elite class in the Tang Dynasty during 618–907BC with music and dances. But it became a festival in the Song Dynasty. But the tradition of eating moon cakes during the festival began in the Yuan Dynasty (1279 – 1368), of the Mongols. The rebels passed messages against the Mongols in mooncakes. The festival’s popularity peaked in the Ming and Qing Dynasties as Chinese New Year.
People promoted many different activities to celebrate it, such as burning pagodas and performing the fire dragon dance.
The modern Chinese rulers declared it a public holiday since 2008. Many traditional activities are disappearing from Mid-Autumn festivities, but new trends have been introduced.
In 2018, September 24 is the date fixed for the celebration.
The date of the festival is the middle of the autumn season, according to the Chinese calendar.
The 8th month is traditionally the time rice is supposed to ripe for harvesting. So, people take this festival as an opportunity to celebrate the harvest.
Mooncake, a traditional Chinese pastry made from wheat flour and sweet stuffing is a symbol of family reunion and the most common and representative tradition of the day. After dinner, every family puts a table outside the door, or in the courtyard, put moon cakes, fruit, incense, and candlesticks on the table, facing towards the moon.Children love making colorful lanterns in different shapes to be hung in trees or houses or floated on rivers. People visit friends or relatives, exchange gifts, send messages to those loved ones who are far away.