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Castellani Art Museum to celebrate Vietnamese New Year

LEWISTON – The Castellani Art Museum on the Niagara University campus will kick off its spring folk art series with “A Celebration of Vietnamese New Year Traditions” from 2 to 4 p.m. next Sunday.

The event will give people a chance to experience the culture and fun of the Vietnamese New Year, otherwise known as Tet, which is the most important celebration of the Vietnamese year and marks the arrival of spring. Visitors will experience dazzling lion dancers, the graceful Lotus Dance Group, traditional foods, games, demonstrations and other activities.

Organizers are Stacey Dinh and Vu Le, who both attend the University at Buffalo. Dinh is a nursing student and president of the Vietnamese Student Club. Le is an electrical engineering student and club vice president.

Dinh said both of her parents were raised in Vietnam.

“At New Year’s it is a time we can come together and talk about our culture. The symbolism has to do with starting fresh and getting closer to family,” Dinh said.

Tommy Le, leader of the Lion Dancers at the Tu Heiu Buddhist Cultural Center, said his family moved to Buffalo in 1989 and at the time he didn’t realize there even was a Buddhist community in the city. He said he put the group together five years ago as a way to promote its culture.

“Lion Dance is (done on) special occasions: weddings, birthdays, anniversaries,” he said. “(It’s) the way to scare bad luck away and bring good luck.”

Valerie Walawender, interim curator of the Castellani Art Museum, worked closely with the organizers on the event.

Admission to the event is free for all students with identification cards and museum members, $10 for nonmembers. Membership sign-ups will be available at the event. Everyone is welcome.

This event is made possible by the National Endowment for the Arts and New York State Council on the Arts.