Kolkata, Jan.31 ANI | 9 months ago

The Chinese community in West Bengal kicked off celebrations to mark the start of the Lunar New Year on Friday.


In Kolkata, midnight revellers gathered in the streets to count down the minutes to the Chinese New Year.

They cheered as the traditional dragon dance was performed to bid farewell to the old year and greet the new.

Many people travelled long distances to be reunited with their families for the annual Spring Festival.

"We set a table to welcome the god into our house at 12 O' Clock. We celebrated with dinner and like me, I am from Toronto, so, I come back here every year to spend time with my parents on Chinese New Year. This year is the Year of the Horse. People who are born in certain years there are 12 zodiac signs, so, this year happens to be Year of the Horse," said Patricia Lee, who lives in Toronto, Canada.

Lunar New Year, which begins on January 31st, is normally marked with fireworks and countless firecrackers, which are thought to bring good luck and scare off evil spirits.

"It's just a mass celebration of the Year of the Horse and usually we get together in a market place. All Chinese families get together. People from abroad come together and we have dragon dancing. Today is considered as the 31st of the year, so we have dragon dancing and then they go to pray to gods. Then they visit each home. So it's pretty much like a whole night of celebration of the year tonight," said Praia, who was joining the celebrations in Kolkata.

In the Chinese calendar, each year is represented by one of twelve animals from the Chinese zodiac. The festival's many customs, observed by millions of Chinese communities around the globe, link back to the idea of inviting good fortune and prosperity, and chasing away bad luck.

The festival traditionally begins on the first day of the first lunar month in the Chinese calendar and ends on the 15th. This day is also called as the Lantern Festival.

The Lunar New Year is marked by the largest annual mass migration on earth, as hundreds of millions of workers pack trains, buses, aircraft and boats to spend the festival with their families.

For many Chinese people, it is their only holiday of the year.

(Posted on 01-02-2014)

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