My first trip to Thailand in late January 2020 included 4 days in Bangkok during the Chinese New Year (Spring Festival) celebration. Starting on Saturday, January 25, the main celebrations lasted 3 days followed by other smaller events over an additional 2 weeks until the Lantern Festival on the 1st full moon of the Lunar Year. Chinese New Year is based on the ancient Chinese Lunar Calendar and is equivalent to today’s New Year’s Eve celebrations.
With my camera and water bottle in tow on the Saturday main event day, at 33 sticky degrees, I made it to Chinatown via the subway and got my shooting underway. You’ll see a number of things bearing true for a Chinese New Year celebration in my photos:
1. It is a day for praying to gods,
2. Every year has a zodiac animal (Year of the Rat this year),
3. The Chinese decorate everything red, and
4. The dragon is a symbol of China and is an important part of Chinese culture. Chinese dragons symbolize wisdom, power and wealth, and they are believed to bring good luck to people.
The Chinatown subway station was chock-full of people.
My first stop was to experience Wat Mangkon Kamalawat, the largest and most important Chinese Buddhist temple in Bangkok. It hosts celebrations of a number of year-round events, including Chinese New Year. The crowds were massive, but orderly.
People line-up outside the temple to acquire their desired offerings to the gods, including incense.
Next, the lighting of incense and candles . The smoke is a soul link between worshippers and the Buddha.
Line-up to enter the temple
Depositing incense before entering the temple
At another nearby temple a worshipper plays Kau Chim or Kau Cim, also known as Lottery poetry or fortune sticks, is a fortune telling practice that originated in China in which the querent requests answers from a sacred oracle lot (Wikipedia)
Back to the streets in Chinatown. A traffic cop doing a great job that day.
Hustle and bussle of the side streets
Yaowarat Road is the main artery of Chinatown
I was fortunate to see the dragon parade. Note the money in the dragon’s hair for good luck.
I have no idea what this dude was up to
Their Justin Beiber lip-sync was just awful, haha
Spectators queue on the sidewalk in advance of the evening Dragon Parade. Typically there is a member of the Royal Thai family in the Parade, hence their photos below
I had to fly out of Bangkok to Taipei that evening so unfortunately I could not be present for the evening celebrations.