Ethnic Chinese Thais pay homage at shrines nationwide


BANGKOK, Jan 22- Many Thais of Chinese descent flocked to temples and shrines in Bangkok’s Chinatown and other provinces to pray for good luck on the eve of Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Monday.

Along Bangkok’s Yaowarat Road, center of the Chinese community, many people in red clothes paid homage to their ancestors and then headed with family members to shrines to seek blessings for happiness and prosperity.

Brisk trade could be seen in the area where shoppers were doing last-minute shopping before the holiday with their families on Monday. Some traders said this year’s sales were slightly up from last year, despite the higher cost of goods.

Preparations are underway for the two-day Bangkok Chinatown Festival 2012, which is to be presided over by Her Royal Highness Princess Mahachakri Sirindhorn at 5pm on Monday. Yaowarat Road has becomes a sea of crimson, with red lanterns hanging all along the route.

The holy Lim Ko Niao Shrine in the southern border province of Pattani was also packed with a large number of worshipers from the neighbouring provinces of Yala, Narathiwat and Songkhla.

Prayoondej Kananukarak, chair of the shrine foundation, said the year of the dragon drew an unusually high number of visitors, as many believed that it was an auspicious year. Special activities, including a traditional lion dance, will be organised throughout the evening until midnight, when the firecrackers would be set off and the sky is lit up with fireworks.

In Hat Yai, the commercial district of the South in Songkhla province, both Thais of Chinese descent and Malaysians paid homage to Chinese traditions at various shrines. The atmosphere was reported as lively, with shops open early to service tourists.

In Trang, senior provincial officials and businesspeople as well as 10,000 civilians donning white offered alms to 10,000 monks and novices from 286 temples in 14 southern provinces at the city centre. They also donated items to monks of the four southern border provinces where it is too dangerous for them to go out for alms.