This year is a bumper Lo Hei year for me. I must have been to at least a dozen Lo Heis since the beginning of the lunar year, that is, just about one per day.
Lo Hei is a wonderful local tradition that stems from the Cantonese dialect, meaning ‘tossing up good fortune’. It is the tossing of a salad with Yu Sheng or raw fish as the key ingredient. The pronunciation Yu Sheng sounds like 'overflowing abundance' and therefore symbolises ‘an abundance of wealth and long life’. The word hei in Lo Hei means ‘rise’. It refers to a thriving business, hence it is understandably a very popular ritual with businessmen during the New Year.
From the kindness perspective, the ritual of Lo Hei is a very gracious act – an act where everyone wishes each other the best in every aspect of life. There are many Chinese four-character phrases to express their kind greetings.
The ritual begins by wishing everyone prosperity (gong xi fa cai) and moves on to identify some ten ingredients, each sounds like and therefore represents a kind wish. For example, fish sounds like “abundance”, so you say “wish you an overflowing abundance every year” (nian nian you yu). Green radish represents youthfulness, so you wish everyone eternal youthfulness (qing chun chang zhu). The plum source is usually added in last and since it is sweet, it therefore symbolises a sweet and pleasant relationship. So we wish each other just that (tian tian mi mi), and so on.
The mixture is then tossed 7 times as high as you can with loud shouts of “lo hei”. You may shout the auspicious four-character phrases as well.
There are many other four-character greetings you can use to greet each other at this time. They include “Whatever you desire, it shall be accomplish” (xin xiang shi cheng), “Good health to you” (sheng ti jian kang), “All things proceeding successfully” (wan shi ru yi), and “Have the energy of the dragon and the liveliness of the horse” (long ma jing shen).
It occurs to me that we can practice kindness and graciousness every day by greeting each other. We do not need to wait till the new year to do that. The spirit of wishing each other well is something we can do every day.
We can begin with paying our GST – but in this case, pay it in full – 100% of it. GST stands for “Greet, Smile and Thanks”.
Why not begin to practice GST today and every day and see the difference it makes. We will make life more pleasant for those around us. More significantly, watch how little acts of graciousness will increase our OWN level of well-being.
新年快乐;万事如意! Wishing you a Happy New Year where everything will go well for you!