How does the Vietnamese celebrate beginnings? The birth of a baby? The opening of a new business? Or even the New Year (Tet, as the Vietnamese terms it)?
You will be surprised that the Vietnamese celebrates them similarly to Singaporeans: with a joyous lion dance!
Vietnam has experienced strong Chinese influences since the ancient times. One of such influence is the lion dance, which was slowly modified by the Vietnamese. The Vietnamese calls it the unicorn dance( Mua Lan) and performs it during important occasions!
The unicorn is treated as a mythical creature in Vietnam. It symbolizes many things such as protection, joy, fortune, intelligence and goodness. While a lion dance showcases magnificent movements, a unicorn dance is fast and full of energy!
Due to its more demanding movements, unicorn dancers train more rigorously as they are expected to master martial arts skills. Unicorn dancers train for at least 3 years and many of them started since they were kids!
A unicorn model usually lacks horns as compared to the lion model. This is because opposing teams of unicorn dancers often challenge and kick each other to showcase their superiority, which damages the horns. The horns are gradually removed to prevent such a situation. An irony indeed since the horn of a unicorn actually represents mercy!
As the drums and cymbals play a rhythm, the unicorn will be led by its partner, the “Dia” who wears a facemask. Through its movements, it will try to grab donations placed by shop owners on a high position. Onlookers will cheer on the unicorn dancers as they attempt this challenge, which adds excitement to the fanfare.
As La Saigon opens its doors to a new beginning, we hope that it flourishes with the energy of a unicorn!