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Chinese Pray For A Good Year Of The Horse

posted 31 Jan 2014, 05:31 by Sam Mbale   [ updated 31 Jan 2014, 05:31 ]

Thousands flock to Beijing's largest Daoist temple to pray for good luck on the first day of the Lunar New Year.

BEIJINGCHINA (JANUARY 31, 2014) (REUTERS) - Thousands of worshippers visited Beijing's Baiyun Temple to pray for good fortune on Friday (January 31), the first day of the Year of the Horse.

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Riotous fireworks and celebrations went on well into Thursday night (January 30) but huge crowds were already lining up as the sun rose on Friday.

On the way in people rubbed the monkey design carved into the stone entrance. Monkeys are believed to bring good luck and ward off bad luck in the year to come.

Once inside, the worshippers prayed around large braziers, which had been filled with sticks of incense by monks.

Many people queued from early in the morning to be one of the first of the year to burn incense.

The horse is a dynamic animal in Chinese mythology, and its year is believed to be conducive to achievement.

"The Year of the Horse comes once every 12 years, and it represents immediate success. It means that if there is something you've been wanting to do, when the Year of the Horse arrives, you will definitely succeed in doing it. I will succeed too," said 60-year-old salesman Yang Zongtao.

Nearby, others threw copper tokens at a bell set inside a giant coin, hanging under a bridge.

According to folklore, if you hit the bell with a coin your wishes will be granted.

"Year of the Horse means racing forward, succeeding quickly. Things should go well, the whole family should be peaceful and safe, and society and the country should be good," said 78-year-old Lin Rongzhen.

"I hope that all the family are happy and healthy every day. For myself, I hope my career can be a bit more stable," said Lin's 20-year-old granddaughter Zhu Kexin.

The Baiyun Temple -- or White Cloud Temple -- is Beijing's largest Taoist temple.

It traces its roots back to the Tang Dynasty, around 1,300 years ago, but was rebuilt to its current form in the early Ming Dynasty around 600 years ago.

Temple staff said they were expecting around 30,000 visitors on Friday.

"I think that in the year of the Horse, the country should be more prosperous, people's lives should be more fulfilled and happy. Especially since President Xicame to power, we have all been very happy and we welcome him. He's doing real things for the people and I'm happy about it. So I think the year of the Horse will be more prosperous than any year before it," said 59-year-old retiree Bai Liping.

Practitioners of feng shui, a Chinese form of geomancy, believe the year ahead may bring conflict and disasters related to fire but strong gains in stocks linked to wood.

Lasting for fifteen days, Chinese New Year is the longest and most important festivity in the Lunar Calendar.

For many, it's the only holiday of the year and the only time when migrants working away from home can spend time with their families.