Yuquan Temple (Photo/SHINE)
The Chinese Lunar New Year is less than a month away. As the most important festival in China, it is an ideal time for family and friends to get together, pass on prayers to ancestors and reward the children in our midst with red envelopes.
Many people take advantage of the festival to go away on holiday. And statistics reveal that 344 million visitors took flight or traveled around China during the Spring Festival holiday in 2017, which saw a growth of 13.8 percent from a year earlier. But the majority of Chinese people stay at home and celebrate with friends and family.
Firecrackers may have been banned in the big cities during Chinese New Year but not in the countryside. And Jiande, 108 kilometers southwest of Hangzhou, is one such small county-level city, which offers multifarious festive activities with firecrackers. It is also a pastoral escape for urban people wanting to get away from the stresses of the daily grind.
Shanghai Daily recommends three ways of enjoying Jiande for the upcoming Spring Festival and how to celebrate it like a local.
Burning incense and striking the bell at Yuquan Temple
For many locals, the first day of the Chinese New Year is a time to visit temples to pray for health and prosperity for the family. If you are in Jiande, Yuquan Temple is the place to go.
Situated on the south side of Wulong Mountain, in the historical Meicheng Town, the temple was originally built during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907) by Monk Shaokang.
Hidden in the lush vegetation of the mountain, the temple has been damaged by war and unrest several times in its history. The present one was restored in 2011 with the consecration rituals being held at the same time.
The stone-carved Amitabha statue, enshrined in the Amida Hall, is one of the few historic relics left in the temple.
And the Lunar New Year's worship entails a complete set of ceremonial procedures, including burning incense sticks in front of the main hall and visiting each Buddhist deity in the hall clockwise.
On Lunar New Year's Eve, the temple is usually open until midnight as people queue to strike the bell. Locals believe that being among the first to strike the bell will ensure they have the best of luck for the whole year.
How to get there from Shanghai: G60 Expressway – G60N Expressway – Yangcunqiao Exit – Yangmei Line – follow road signs till you reach Meicheng Town