Tourism has manipulated the culture of the local people in Chengdu. It has tended to hold the tourist’s desire for satisfaction as well as their achievement of authentic experience. This phenomenon has been experienced due to the fact that modernity is spreading to all parts of the world (Getz 1998, p. 180). Modernity culminates into incorporation of some activities that were not there before. Thus, the festival had been diluted in terms of its taste. Therefore, it can be argued that tourism has diverted the original purpose of the Chengdu Lantern Festival. This is simply because people’s search for fulfillment of authenticity has resulted to increased desire to trade by the local community. Thus, both the locals and the tourists have played a role in diverting the authenticity of the festival, although both parties usually have different motives.
According to Galla (1994), tourism is a threat to cultural uniqueness as well as the heritage of a given community. This is a true occurrence putting into consideration the mingling of people from different parts of the world. For instance, when people from different parts of the world gather in Chengdu to celebrate the festival, they tend to diffuse their culture not only to their fellow tourists, but also to the locals (Moynagh & Worsley 2008, p. 89). Notably, each individual has a different culture. Thus, as people interact with each other, they unconsciously change the orientation of each other in terms of their culture. This has remarkably reduced the uniqueness of the Lantern Festival. Urry (2002) argues that when people experience different cultures, they are bound to stop seeking the real authentic culture in which they belong.; rather they should begin enjoying the theatrical experience which they have gained from different individuals. This reduces the originality of their culture and heritage. Thus, the festival losses the “true self” as the roles and perception of the festival by the locals and international community declines.
Globalization has changed the way festivals and cultural events are carried out in various parts of the world. Indeed, it has changed modern lifestyles and ways people relate with one another. This is the same case when tourist’s behavior is related with authenticity. Originally, the festival was characterized by the following: young people took to the streets in the hope of finding a lover. Match makers were also busy in the hope of getting a couple. The lanterns that were very bright were signifying hope and luck among the Chinese people. However, due to the modernity, the festival does not have such practices today. Such actions that helped to make the festival beautiful were abandoned. Moreover, there were people on the sides who were busy watching the lanterns as they passed with the lovers who were in search for a lover (Getz 1998, p. 126). On the same, there was a period set aside for guessing the riddles which were part of the festival during the reign of Tang Dynasty. The riddles were deemed to contain messages of good fortune, good harvest, and reunion of families as well as love and prosperity of the nation. These practices have been omitted due to the effects of tourism that have been brought about by modernization and globalization. In tourism, the modern search for authenticity has become most evident. In the desire to search for authenticity, people have found themselves losing their identity due to various reasons.
The Chengdu Lantern Festival has a very important function in the Chinese culture, as it has held the Chinese traditions for centuries. As earlier stated, it is celebrated at the end of the Lunar New Year. This first lunar month is known as Yuan. Today, the Lantern Festival has become an event where various fireworks are carried out. These activities take place in the major towns of China and Taiwan. Indeed, each dynasty that has been in power has had different believes about the Lantern Festival (Getz 1998, p. 360). The performances carried out during the celebration signify the wealth and power of the Chinese. Moreover, it symbolizes the significance of the cultural means of co-existence.
Originally, literature such as poems were also included during the festival. Skilled writers were writing poems and songs that helped to make the festival more colorful. In addition, they helped to boast the mood and various happenings during the festival. Most of the Chinese traditions are still being continued in China’s capital, Beijing. Indeed, it has been observed that the cultural traditions are more practiced than religious ones. For instance, the Lantern Festival in Sichuan is held in a park thus it’s given a major priority.
Although the festival attracts large hordes of people annualy, the traditions have been changed. It is not celebrated as it was the case there before. Notably, most activities have been computerized in the modern society (MacCannell 1979, p. 302). This involves designing and making lanterns. China is one of the countries in the world that had been able to experience great innovations in technology. As a result, every activity in any sector of the economy has been computerized. More specifically, few candles are lit using candles as it was the case in the past. Due to the ability to use technology, electric lights are used instead. Compared to candles-lit lanterns, electric candles are brighter and powerful. To make event more colorful, the lanterns are developed in various shapes such as animals, cartoon characters as well as other elements of nature. In has been observed that technology that has resulted due to modernization, has greatly influenced the way the Lantern Festival is carried out. Everything has been computerized. Despite the production of electric lanterns, the Chinese have gone a notch higher to incorporate technology in addressing the visitors; they are offering the information about the festival as well as taking live videos that are streamed as the event happens (Held & McGrew 2007, p. 126). This has given the festival a totally new shape.
Due to effect of modernization, Chinese people in all parts of the world have slightly different beliefs while celebrating the Lantern Festival. This entails the meanings attached to it as well as how to celebrate it. Nevertheless, some practices remain common despite the change in beliefs. These include the use of red lanterns, display of fireworks as well as eating the Yuanxiao, glutinous rice which is named after the day of the festival (Chhabra 2001, p. 87). Thus, people celebrate the festival for diverse reasons, but some practices have been held constant as they form the basis of the celebration. Other activities that are also practiced include various performances such as walkers, acrobatics as well as dances.
The main significance of the Lantern Festival today is associated with the festive celebrations. Despite the fact that more religious Buddhists still remember their lord during the Yuanxiao, the main aim is to hold traditions and culture of the Chinese. The Lantern Festival is also deemed to be a symbol of creative abilities as well as the ability of the Chinese to adapt in various parts of the world (Knowles & El-Mourhabi 2001, p. 230). Although Chinese, they have been able to continue celebrating these activities for centuries. This has made the practice a tradition and hence should be undertaken every year. Therefore, this festive season is at the heart of the Chinese people to celebrate the uniqueness of their traditions and heritage.
On the other hand, red lanterns are not only a symbol of love; they also signify the brighten lives of the Chinese people all over the world and their continued survival. Thus, the red lanterns are a symbol of hope, joy and promise of a bright future that will never die out among the Chinese people (Diamantis 2003, p. 412). On the same, people are motivated by various factors to adopt new cultures. Such changes may be evident through alterations in the mode of dressing, eating as well as the behavioral change. People begin to view other people’s culture and practices more superior than theirs. As a result, they abandon their culture in the name of modernization. Thus, self searching has affected many individuals as they are in the urge of generating new ideas to improve themselves. Lifestyles are also changing significantly with the advancement in historical periods.
According to (Clapp 1999; Cohen 1988), the quality of the heritage of tourism is mainly developed through authenticity. Moreover, the authenticity in various events and attractions is based and distorted on the needs of both the visitors as well as their hosts. Thus, the two parties have diverse expectations. As a result, they are motivated by various factors to take certain actions in order to meet their needs. However, the objective of authenticity by either the guests or the hosts will highly influence the final result. Other factors that have influenced modern festivals are postmodernism, constructivism as well as objectivism. The three factors give individuals a different orientation and point of view when practicing a certain cultural related event. The object to be toured should be constructive. This highly depends on the tourist's objective. As one tours, he or she is likely to gain experience that is mainly constructive (Taylor 2001, p. 78). Mostly, the tourist should also see the objective as existential something that will lead to authentication of the object being activated.
Indeed, globalization of tourism and hospitality has ruined our cultural values. Most cultures have been ruined due to the fact that people are able to share cultures with people from different parts of the world. This culminates in people hating their culture and eventually adopting other people’s culture. This has negative effects on the well-being of the society as they leave their narratives and cultures. Through tourism, people now have a different perception of the world around them. This entails wherever they go as well as whatever they do. Evidently, world economies have been dominated by First World countries (Chhabra 2001, p. 21). This leaves an avenue for the developed countries to diffuse their cultures to the less developed countries. The result is that Third World countries no longer observe their cultural practices. In exception of countries such as China and few other that have been able to withstand the wave of cultural change, the majority of countries globally have experienced a rapid alteration in their cultural values, in search of new knowledge as well as trying to fit in the ever changing world. The West has influenced many cultures in the world, especially with the spread of Christianity.
Advancement in media has also been experienced due to increased technological innovations. To some extent, this has influenced our cultural and associated practices. Today, there are unlimited means through which information can be relayed. The most common one is through the internet. The prevalence of media has posed some global danger as people get information as things happen (Diamantis 2003, p. 204). Due to this capacity, people have been misinformed or mislead as there is no authenticity in whoever is supposed to give certain information at any given time. This is common with the social sites such as Facebook and Twitter among others. Moreover, the sustainability of certain cultures has become hard to maintain. This is because of various forces that make people to change in order to adjust to the prevailing conditions. Essentially, culture is mobile. As people move from one region to another, they tend to posses their culture. Thus, there is a likelihood that they will be able to influence communities in their destination. Moreover, communication through various means has also played a big role in influencing our cultural practices and behaviors.
Cultural festivals have significantly changed. In the above case of the Chengdu Lantern Festival China, the change is evident through the way it is practiced today in comparison to how it was done several years ago. Indeed, some festivals have lost “taste” because people do not associate great meaning to such celebrations as their perception has changed. Although the Chengdu Lantern Festival has changed, it has been able to maintain its originality in terms its performance and significance. Moreover, the festival still attracts millions of people from all parts of the world. On the same, most Chinese observe the event by traveling home to celebrate it every New Year.