With the pandemic still running its course, the arrival of the Year of the Ox was a relatively sombre affair as compared to previous years. On top of a limitation on the number of people allowed at gatherings, the boisterous lo hei tradition has also been dampened by restrictions. Restaurants this year were noticeably quieter, missing the typically raucous shouting of auspicious phrases like “huat ah!” or “nian nian you yu” given the government mandate of having to keep masks on and a prohibition on this custom.
Even so, one organisation was determined to celebrate the best they can, defying the odds to host a Lunar New Year celebration like no other, all while keeping to all the rules.
Team Nila, a national sport volunteerism movement led by Sport Singapore, accomplished this feat by leveraging on our best friend throughout this health crisis: technology.
Team Nila exists to promote a culture of giving, citizenship partnership, and social cohesion through sports. Sports activities might be limited during these times but that wasn’t going to hinder Team Nila’s mission of building a cohesive and connected community. To that end, they organised a virtual lo hei.
They reached out to potential participants through their email newsletter and relied heavily on word-of-mouth. Participants were encouraged to register for the event online. For their convenience, they could even opt to have a yu sheng platter sent to their homes! More ambitious participants also had the option to DIY (do-it-yourself) their yu sheng platters, and some participants definitely let their creativity run wild (as you’ll see below).
Their efforts paid off.
On 11 February, at 7 p.m., Team Nila’s virtual lo hei saw the attendance of over 1,500 individuals across all ethnicities and culture – a true celebration of our nation’s diversity.
Among the attendees were special guests Parliamentary Secretary Eric Chua, Team Singapore athletes Yip Pin Xiu (Swimming), Cherie Tan (Bowling), Yeo Jiamin (Badminton), Jen Goh (Golf), Delvin Goh (Basketball) and Chelsea Sim (Taekwondo).
All smiles for the virtual celebration, bringing together people across Singapore in the spirit of togetherness and community.
MCCY Parliamentary Secretary Mr Eric Chua sharing the love with finger hearts while hosting the session.
Chinese New Year doesn’t just have to be for the Chinese among us! In a true representation of our multiracial and multicultural society, Team Nila volunteer Nun Zairina bte Indun soaked in the festivities with her family.
Singapore residents gathered as one during the event to usher in the Year of the Ox.
Some even unleashed their inner Picasso with creative yu sheng platters to kickstart an Ox-picious year!
Clearly, Team Nila didn’t let the pandemic get them down during this Lunar New Year. They’ve shown us that even amid these unusual circumstances, celebrations and festivities do not have to cease and can instead be made bigger and brighter with a little spark of innovation!