Naveed Aman Khan
‘Zhong Qiu Jie’, known as the Mid – Autumn Festival, is celebrated on August 15 every year. It is the time for family members and loved ones to congregate and enjoy the full moon – an auspicious symbol of abundance, harmony and luck. Adults usually indulge in fragrant moon cakes of many varieties with a good cup of piping hot Chinese tea, while the little ones run around with their brightly lit lanterns. ‘ Zhong Qiu Jie ‘ probably began as a harvest festival. The festival was later given a mythological flavour with legends of Chang-E, the beautiful lady in the moon.
The Mid-Autumn Festival began in the early Tang Dynasty, prevailed in the Song, Ming and Qing Dynasties, has become one of the traditional Chinese festivals with the Spring Festival. Influenced by Chinese culture, the Mid-Autumn Festival is also a traditional festival for overseas Chinese in East and South-East Asia, especially in the local areas. Since 2008, the Mid-Autumn Festival has been listed as a national statutory holiday. On May 20, 2006, the State Council was included in the first batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.
Since ancient times, the Mid-Autumn Festival has the custom of offering sacrifices to the moon, appreciating the moon, worshipping the moon, eating moon cakes, appreciating Osmanthus flowers, drinking Osmanthus wine and so on which has been circulated for a long time. The Mid-Autumn Festival symbolizes the reunion of people by the full moon. It is a rich and precious cultural heritage for people who miss their hometown, their loved ones and hope for a bumper harvest and happiness. Mid-Autumn Festival and Dragon Boat Festival, Spring Festival and Tomb Sweeping Day are also known as the four traditional festivals in China.
According to Chinese mythology, the earth once had ten suns circling over it. One day, all ten suns appeared together, scorching the earth with their heat. The earth was saved when a strong archer, Hou Yi, succeeded in shooting down nine of the suns. Yi stole the elixir of life to save the people from his tyrannical rule, but his wife, Chang-E drank it. Thus started the legend of the lady in the moon to whom young Chinese girls would pray at the Mid-Autumn Festival.
During the Yuan Dynasty (A.D.1206-1368) China was ruled by the Mongolian people. Leaders from the preceding Sung Dynasty (A.D.960-1279) were unhappy at submitting to foreign rule, and set how to coordinate the rebellion without it being discovered. The leaders of the rebellion, knowing that the Moon Festival was drawing near, ordered the making of special cakes. Packed into each moon cake was a message with the outline of the attack. On the night of the Moon Festival, the rebels successfully attacked and overthrew the government. What followed was the establishment of the Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644). Today, moon cakes are eaten to commemorate this event.
Xi’an is thousands of years ancient city of People’s Republic of China. Bai Zhijun, Prof. Dr. Ma Dong and Prof. Dr. Wang Shan from Xi’an are very good friends of mine. I have heartfelt affection for historical city of Xi’an because of my these honourable friends. I have found Chinese nation very committed and composed. Bai Zhijun is wonderful Chinese high level government official from Shaanxi Culture Department. He is very social, committed, diligent and dedicated professional. Bai Zhijun especially asked me to meet the troupe arriving Islamabad for the celebration of Mid-Autumn Festival. Great artists of China Ji Fuji and Qi Zi Qiang visited Pakistan. Ji Fuji is a popular play writer and wonderful calligrapher from Xi’an, Shaanxi. His marvellous calligraphic work has its own class and level. His amazing work has also been exhibited in Australia, Singapore and entire China. His masterpieces are matchless. Qi Zi Qiang is another great painter of China. His father was also an expert calligrapher. Qi Zi Qiang’s superb artistic work is exhibited in Japan, Korea and Pakistan. Both of the great Chinese artists prepared masterpiece paintings and calligraphy for me in minutes. It was all amazing. This Chinese troupe was accompanied by Jing Ze Hao and potential journalist Wang Jing of Chinese TV.
Mid-Autumn Festival Gala performance was organized by Cultural Department of the Chinese Embassy, Islamabad, under the guidance of Chinese Ambassador Excellency Yao Jing while Cultural Counsellor You Yi, Umar Jan and Xing Lijun made the event and China National Day celebrations amazingly marvellous. Every Chinese diplomat played superb role in making the excellent arrangements for the celebrations. On the occasion, Xian Yanan and Zeng Xueke presented traditional Tang Music and dance. Ni Jin and Zhang Qi presented plum blossom three Moments Melody. Qian Jiarui was the leading dancer for girls group dance Jasmine Blossoms. Instrument player Zhang Ying coloured the ancient musical solo dance. Wonderful musical experts Wang Fang, Xing Fang, Zhang Qi and Xin Jia were superb above all instruments players. Melodious compositions of Chinese musicians and instruments players rightly coloured the occasion. GU Qin, Chinese Flute, Pipa, Zheng and erhu were main instruments played. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor broad canvas has created these opportunities of interaction for both of the great nations of Pakistan and China. Undoubtedly Mid-Autumn Gala Festival performances of the Chinese artists and musicians added colours to China National Day celebrations making the event momentous.