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Hakka Tradition a Heritage for Shenzhen
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Hakka people, conservative and hard-working, are a reflection of the spirit of Shenzhen, a melting pot for migrants from all over China, according to Yang Honghai, chairman of the local folk culture society.

Shenzhen's first Hakka Culture Festival, which runs until the end of the month, offers gala shows, a photography and painting exhibition, lectures and cooking demonstrations to promote unique Hakka traditions. Two shows featuring Hakka songs and dances will be held Friday (Dec. 29) at the Futian District government building conference hall and Yantian Plaza in Yantian District respectively.

Painters from Dafen Village and photographers in Longgang are exhibiting more than 200 works -- around the theme of Hakka people's daily lives, cultural traditions and homes -- at Shenzhen Citizens' Center until Saturday.

"With nearly 2 million Hakkas, who have lived in Guangdong for a long time, and nearly 10 million migrants from around China, Shenzhen is the right place to promote the Hakka spirit of endeavor, endurance and their support for each other," Yang said.

Hakka people also focus on educating their children and remain faithful to their roots and unique culture.

Yang said it is essential for local young people to rediscover the value of traditional Chinese culture and learn to appreciate various folk arts.

"We are collecting authentic Hakka mountain songs in Longgang, Dapeng Peninsula and other parts of Yantian, where most Hakkas live, so that they will not fade with time.

Some Hakka musicians like Rao Rongfa and Wang Yougui are also trying to innovate using the mountain songs and adding modern elements for today's young audiences."

In fact, a reformed style of Hakka songs and dances is becoming popular among primary schools and kindergartens in Longgang District.

Huang Chongyue, researcher with the Shenzhen Museum, said at a seminar during the culture festival that preserving the Hakka villages and residences in Longgang District is one of the local government's primary tasks.

"We can develop tourism by exploiting folk culture resources. But the main concern is to preserve the architecture."

Chen Shisong, a Hakka researcher from Sichuan Province, referred to the successful exploitation of Hakka culture resources in Luodai Township, Chengdu City. He underscored the importance of overall planning by a high-quality research institute and initial investments by the government.

Hakka people first moved to Longgang District during the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and more than 100 traditional round Hakka homes still survive.

The Longgang Hakka Folk Culture Museum, also called Hehu New Residence, is the largest Hakka residence in Shenzhen. Built in 1817, it covers a sprawling 25,000 square meters. Hehu New Residence was added to the provincial protection list in 2002.

( December 27, 2006)

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