Thursday, 4 February 2016

Lap Chun 2016 丙申年立春

Welcoming the year of fire monkey. 
4th February, the 立春 or Lap Chun, is the day Chinese all across the globe welcome the first day of spring regardless of their domicile. Today also mark the start of the year of Fire Monkey (丙申). As I’ve explained previously, the start of the zodiac of the year is on the first day of spring, which in Gregorian calendar, for some miraculous reason, is always on the 4th February.

It is a common misconception that the first day of Chinese New Year is the start of a new zodiac year. However, the Chinese calendar have its own way of determining spring, summer, autumn and winter based on the solar system. This method was said to be laid by the Yellow Emperor and have been in practice for thousands of years. Hence, once every three years, the Chinese will celebrate the first day of Chinese New Year before Lap Chun.

Different family have different ways of celebrating Lap Chun. Some will mark it by pasting a word of (full) on their rice bucket as a signification for an abundance year ahead. Others will paste the word (spring) on their main door to usher in spring which marks a new beginning and sending away the ills of the past year.

I used to welcome the spring by changing the Chinese New Year Couplet on the doors, replacing the old lanterns and red cloth on my door and by doing an elaborate prayer but since daddy’s passing in 2014, there is a set of mourning rules to be observed for three years. By 2018, everything will be back to normal. Thus, I mark Lap Chun by doing the “full offering” (满供) to Lord Buddha and the deities at home as a way to express my gratitude for their blessing and years of prosperity. I was first taught of full offering by a senior monk during my Auckland days. For some years, I’ve followed his version of “full offering” – read here.

However, since last year, at the advice of a medium with access to the Jade Emperor, I’ve changed one of the items mentioned due to the difficulties in obtaining the miniature monk robes. As a replacement, I was told to put the pumpkin. I do not know the significance of pumpkin because I never have the habit of asking “why” with regards to prayers. I was also told to reduce to number of 9, for example 9 oranges, 9 cups of tea to 5 because the way of offering in a house is different from that of temples.

This year, I am not in my Kuala Lumpur house to personally do all the preparations and prayer for Lap Chun but I am glad that Yong did all the preparations perfectly. At 5.46pm, the exact time of Lap Chun in 2016, I did my prayers in mom’s house and Yong did his. 

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