Worshippers fill temples on the first day of Chinese lunar new year

Chinese New Year

People across China celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year by heading out to temples across China by the thousands to light incense and pray. CCTV’s Grace Brown visited one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Beijing to see it in person.

Worshippers fill temples on the first day of Chinese lunar new year

Worshippers fill temples on the first day of Chinese lunar new year

People across China celebrate the first day of the Lunar New Year by heading out to temples across China by the thousands to light incense and pray. CCTV’s Grace Brown visited one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Beijing to see it in person.

After the initial bangs heard by fireworks and the excited people lighting them cheer to celebrate the start of Spring Fesitval, the smoke starts to dissipate and a more spiritual atmosphere sets in.

Beijing resident Fu Tai began waiting outside the Yonghegong Lama temple at 3 a.m.

“Every year on this day we come here. We come because of tradition and so our family can all live safely and smoothly in the new year,” Fu said.

As 5 a.m. approached the line stretched several hundred meters before the crowd poured in at sunrise. Temple staff told CCTV visitor crowds have been growing each year. Last year this temple attracted more than 70,000 people on the first day of the new year and it expected the larger crowd this year.

Zhou Jinchen from central China’s Hubei province was the first person to burn incense at the temple this year.

“I have been waiting outside the temple since 6 a.m. yesterday. I stayed overnight and brought a blanket with me. I am very excited to be first. It implies that in the new year you will find success in everything on your first attempt,” Zhou said.

Zhou is a businessman who runs a publishing company in Beijing and said he is praying for his country to be more prosperous too.

“I came here to pray that my parents will be healthy and safe in the new year. And for my country to grow stronger in 2015. I hope Chinese people can live fulfilling lives, with jobs they enjoy. I think my wish is very common,” Zhou said.

Apart from praying, another lunar luck-boosting tradition is coin tossing.

“It’s a tradition to gain wealth, good luck and safety in the coming year. If you get your coin inside the pot you can receive riches in the new year,” temple visitor Ye Feng said.

In a fast-paced and highly competitive society, finding time for prayer is increasingly rare. During this week-long holiday it’s likely that millions across Asia will reset and relinquish their hopes to faith in temples across the continent and the world.