YANGON, Feb. 9 (Xinhua) -- Traffic on a main road running through the center of Chinatown in Myanmar's biggest city of Yangon has become jammed day by day as it approaches the upcoming Chinese lunar new year, the year of tiger.

Five days ahead of the fall of the tiger year, hundreds of road- side stalls, provisionally erected along both sides of the Maha Bandoola Street (historically known as Guangdong Street for Myanmar-Chinese) at the Chinatown point, are receiving a large number of new year goods purchasers, both young and old, especially housewives.

Thousands of items of seasonal commodities highlighting "spring " flood the market which range from home-made Chinese traditional cake made of glutinous rice flour to various imported new year special purchase goods such as red lanterns in various sizes, replicas of firecracker, golden blocks and coins, paintings featuring the spring festival including antithetical couplets, sweets and biscuits, meat and vegetable, and other decoration materials for the festival.

A shop owner, who was busy sweeping and decorating his beer shop, told Xinhua that he expects it will bring in booming business by sweeping away the old dust.

The famous 19th Street near the Guangdong Temple in the Chinatown is specially known to Myanmar people who normally come to the street as sun sets when their office and factory work are over to enjoy roast meat and Chinese cuisine with strong beer.

The Myanmar Beer company offered all shops free of charge for their advertisement materials to attract customers.

The shop owner expects that all shops in the street will be fully occupied in the new year days.

Witnessing on the main street are some joyful children in small groups beating up their minor drums and making rehearsal for house- to-house call with small lion dance performances when the new year falls on Sunday.

Zhou Baofu, an event organizer also told Xinhua that a long festive procession by a dozen local Myanmar-Chinese amateur lion and dragon dancing groups in the Chinatown will spark Yangon's new year activities on Saturday, the eve of the new year.

A series of lion dance competitions, involving the 12 amateur lion dancing groups are to take place on Sint Oh Dan Street, a street next to the 19th, and the contests will run from the second day of the new calendar year for four consecutive nights until Thursday and a prize presentation ceremony for the first and the second winning lion dancing groups will be held on Friday when they will repeat their excellent performances, he said.

The four-day competitions include ground dancing and on-table dancing, he added.

At a time when the lunar new year is drawing near, the Chinese community is launching traditional charity activities with several social and religious organizations distributing cash aid to poor and old-aged people above 70 with no children to care for them.

These organizations mainly include the biggest Myanmar-Chinese Charity Association, Qing Fu Gon Temple, Guangdong Guanyin Temple and Mutai Temple as well as some private companies and individual businessmen. Cash donation ceremonies have been held one after another for them a week before the fall of the new year.

The Chinese community responsible for culture aspects have begun to make full preparations for celebrating the traditional spring festival since weeks ago especially with arts and cultural organizations conducting rehearsals of their musical and dancing programs to be presented at their respective festive shows scheduled on the new year days.

The Overseas Chinese New Year Carol Singing Group, organized by the community dignitaries, and local Guangdong Music Band, organized spontaneously by amateur music lovers from younger generation, are leading in staging performances with songs and dances on the 1st and 3rd of the new calendar year respectively.

Another local music band, the Panda, which was transformed from opera troupe decades ago, is also set to stage similar show on the 7th of the new calendar year, thus creating colorful attraction over the festive period that lasts until the Lantern Festival, the 15th of the first lunar month.

Inherited with Chinese traditions and customs, on the eve day, all family members try to come back home from wherever they are for the new year. Families of Chinese residents, used to prepare their meal in the nicest form all year round which is rich with meat, especially pork, chicken and duck, wine and beverages, and have their lunches deliciously after paying worship to their ancestors, the signboards of whom are generally erected at the wall of their apartments for almost all families.

Children are given new clothes and red envelopes containing pocket money.

Some Myanmar-Chinese family members also told Xinhua that they are going to spend the night of the new year eve by staying up late or all night to observe the moment of changing to a new calendar year with part of their family members planning to go to some Buddhist temples at the night to pay homage to Lord Buddha and Guanyin, the goddess of mercy in Buddhist legend

Credit : Travel Myanmar (Tourism information, activities, idea exchange inside Burma)" group.

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