You have undoubtably heard of the frantic pace of the progress in China in the past two decades. This is especially apparent when you visit some of the major coastal cities where the modernization began. These Chinese cities have all the classic neon glamour, glitz and modern convenience like any other major cities in the world.
However, China is still very much a land of contrasts. It is almost a treat now to see some of the ‘old’ local customs and flavours while wandering this vast country. So, it was dynamite when I came across these old fashion signage in Dunhuang in the western province of Gansu. The local businesses from restaurants to doctors use these cloth signage for branding. In my opinion, these huge red characters on plain white are way more effective in catching my attention than the dizzying blinking electronic neon signs.
China’s rich operatic heritage started with Emperor Xuanzong in the Tang Dynasty (712-755 A.D.). Many of the features that characterize modern Chinese Opera developed in northern China, particularly Shanxi and Gansu Provinces. These included the use of certain set characters: Sheng - the man, Dan - the woman, Hua - painted face, and Chou - the clown.
Hua Dan (花旦) refers to lively, vivacious young female characters in Chinese Opera. The role of Hua Dan usually represents a cheerful, feisty and flirtatious young woman from lowly social status.
Costume for this role is vivid in design and colour. It consists of a jacket and trousers and a red handkerchief is carried to flutter in the actress’s hand. The character of Hua Dan focuses more on movements, speech and facial expressions. The makeup for this role is often bold and rich in colours.
At 32,000 square feet, BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir complex in northwest of Toronto is the largest Mandir in Canada and second largest Hindu temple outside of India.
The Mandir was constructed by 2000 builders in a record 18 months with a price tag of $40 millions. This hand crafted Mandir displays the fine tradition of ancient Indian arts & philosophy and was built using Turkish limestone and Italian marble.. Visitors are awestruck by the unique architecture and detailed intricacy of the carvings.
The BAPS Shri Swaminarayan Mandir was dedicated to the people of Canada on July 22nd, 2007 by the spiritual leader of BAPS Swaminarayan Sanstha and the inspirer, His Divine Holiness Pramukh Swami Maharaj. Our Prime Minister Stephen Harper, Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty and the then Toronto Mayor David Miller were present at the ceremony.