Chinese Pray on First Day of Year of the Snake
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Chinese worshippers rose early on Sunday (February 10) to offer prayers at temples on the first day of the Year of the Snake. Thousands of people flocked to Beijing's ancient Yonghegong Lama Temple, braving freezing temperatures and hangovers to be one of the first to burn an incense stick. Some lit bunches of incense and kowtowed three times in front of the temple's many halls, while others threw huge piles into urns of fire in the crowded temple courtyard.

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(ROUGH CUT ONLY - NO REPORTER NARRATION) Chinese worshippers rose early on Sunday (February 10) to offer prayers at temples on the first day of the Year of the Snake. Thousands of people flocked to Beijing's ancient Yonghegong Lama Temple, braving freezing temperatures and hangovers to be one of the first to burn an incense stick. Some lit bunches of incense and kowtowed three times in front of the temple's many halls, while others threw huge piles into urns of fire in the crowded temple courtyard. The 300-year-old Lama Temple is the most important centre of Tibetan Buddhism in the ancient capital. Visitors took turns hitting a giant bell with a giant hammer, a custom that many believe will ward off evil and bring luck and longevity for the year ahead. In one of the temple's inner courtyards, people threw coins at an ancient urn. Getting a coin through one of the windows in the top is said to fulfil wishes for the coming year. The Year of the Dragon ended on Saturday (February 9) night with countless thunderous fireworks displays across the city. The Lunar New Year is the most important festival in the Chinese calendar, as it is often the only holiday in the year that they get to escape work and spend time with families and relatives. Celebrations, including temple fairs and traditional performance and craft activities, will last for 15 days.