Pandemic silences Sibu Martial Art Lion dance troupe for first time in years

No lion dance performances this year.

SIBU, Feb 6: For the past 24 years, the lion dance troupe of Sibu Martial Art (Quan Shu) Association had been visiting 100 homes during the Chinese New Year celebration.

This year will be the first time in their history where they have no choice but to give lion dance performance a miss as Sibu Division is still under Movement Control Order until Feb 14.

There are 10 lion dance groups in the town who are also affected by the MCO.

Head coach, Gilbert Wong said they had already received a similar number of bookings for the celebration from residents, associations and business owners.

The Sibu Tua Pek Kong Temple will be a quiet place this new year as Wong’s troupe who is their regular client, will not be there also.

“As everybody knows that lion dance performance is prohibited during the MCO, we did not inform those who had made their bookings as they understood the situation,” he said.

Wong said even during Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) in early January, they had to turn down requests by operators of business in the newly built Han’s Residence as lion dance performance was also disallowed then.

In January, a number of new shop owners elsewhere in the town also had to make do without lion dance performance.

“This coming Chinese New Year will be the first time that we homes of residence including business and association premises. For the past 24 years, we had been on the road from the first day of the new year right up to Chap Goh Mei celebration. Looks like it will be a moody celebration this time. Previously I will be busied leading the troupe but this time I will be at home doing nothing,” said Wong who is an insurance agent.

He was sad that their income would be greatly impacted now that they could not perform.

“Our source of income mainly comes from lion dance performance during the Chinese New Year celebration which we used to cover our operating cost. Without any income this time, it will greatly affect our functioning,” he said.

His troupe boast 30 members. They have only 18 members now as about one-third of them who are studying either in West Malaysia or oversea could not return home due to travel restriction and the needs for quarantine.

“We are still hoping that we can perform during the Chap Goh Mei celebration if there is no further extension of the MCO here,” he hoped.

The lion dance is one of the most important traditions at Chinese New Year to create a festive atmosphere and bring happiness.

It has to be the norm for CNY revellers and businesses to have lion dance performances as they believe it will bring them prosperity and good luck. -DayakDaily