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Last Updated: Sunday, 18 February 2007, 19:06 GMT
Fiery launch for Chinese new year
Celebrations in Guiyang, Guangzhou province
Chinese people have greeted the new year with a bang
China's year of the pig has got off to an explosive start, with celebrations including record-breaking displays of fireworks and firecrackers.

People flocked to temples and parks to pray, eat, sing and burn incense.

The year of the pig is supposed to bring good luck and prosperity. But this time it is a golden pig year, which happens once in six decades.

But at least 125 people were injured by fireworks in the capital Beijing, as they sought to drive away evil spirits.

Vast numbers of people have been on the move to be with their family for the celebrations.

State TV broadcast images of President Hu Jintao visiting one family to wish them well.

Disney goes classical

YEAR OF THE GOLDEN PIG
Golden Pig in Shanghai
The pig is the last of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac
Pigs symbolise good luck, but also turbulence
2007 is the year of the fire (golden) pig
Babies born in Golden Pig years are believed to be particularly lucky

There are red lanterns hanging in the parks, dragon dance performances and traditional fairs at some of the country's biggest temples.

In Beijing's Ditan Park, performers sang folk songs and opera for the crowds, many of whom carried balloons and pinwheels.

Vendors sold pork dumplings and other treats such as pig-shaped toffee.

At Hong Kong's Disneyland, Mickey and Minnie Mouse donned traditional Chinese clothes as loudspeakers replaced Disney tunes with classical Chinese music.

But the city itself was a ghost town, as a firecracker ban forced revellers to seek a festive atmosphere elsewhere.

'Turbulence'

The Year of the Golden Pig falls once every 60 years.

Some soothsayers warn that the pig can bring turbulence, and warn of a rise in natural disasters and conflict in 2007.

A baby boom is also expected, in what is considered one of the most auspicious years for having children.

The year of the pig is being celebrated with greater sensitivity in some Asian countries such as Indonesia and Malaysia with large Muslim populations, which view pigs as offensive and unclean.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Celebrations at the start of the new year



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