HONOLULU (CN) — A woman who claims she was knocked down by a dancing lion during a Chinese New Year’s celebration while walking to Whole Foods at a Honolulu mall has sued the mall and the lion.
Nathalie Fox accused Kahala Mall, its owners and the Wah Ngau Lion Dance Association of negligence, premises liability, nuisance, failure to warn, and battery. Whole Foods is not a party to the complaint.
Fox says she was on her way to Whole Foods when she was “suddenly struck and knocked to the ground by one or more ‘Lion Dancers,'” that she says were “dancing/bounding and/or leaping amongst customers.”
The fall resulted in a broken hip for Fox, a retired school teacher from the mainland. She had surgery and must use a walker now, her complaint says.
“The dancers tried to help,” Fox’s attorney Paul Smith, of Shutter Dias & Smith, said. “They took off their masks. I’m sure they felt bad. But it is catastrophic when an elderly person breaks their hip. And we feel there was inadequate protection. The dancers were exiting a store, backwards we think. We’re still doing discovery.”
Kahala Mall, which maintains a full calendar of events at its center court, did not return a request for comment.
Fox seeks general and special damages.
Lion dancing is popular in Hawaii during the Chinese New Year and can be seen and heard on the streets in Chinatown, at parades, festivals, malls and local businesses who pay the associations — generally athletic organizations dedicated to training youth — to dispense good luck. The Wah Ngau Lion Dance Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the “perpetuation of the Chinese arts.”
The familiar sight of a Chinese mother nudging a reluctant little child forward with a dollar bill for the lion’s mouth is analogous to the Western mom holding out a hysterical child for Santa to take onto his lap.
Dating back to the third century, the lion’s dance is performed to chase away ghosts. The distinctive, rhythmic, essential clanging of cymbals, gongs and drums can be heard blocks away as the procession drives the evil spirits before it.
Colorful lion costumes incorporate feng shui elements like colors based on the bagua — a Chinese religious motif — and mirrors, which deflect bad energy.
From center court at the mall, the lions visited various businesses that had red “hung bao” envelopes with money inside hanging from doorways.
When the lions eat the offering, the musicians play a rolling crescendo. Then the lion leaps about energetically.
The only thing lacking at the indoor ceremony are long strands of firecrackers ripping over the heads of revelers.
Photo credit: Myrabella/Wikipedia
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