Celebrating Chinese New Year in Hacienda Heights

People hand money to Lion dancers at Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

People hand money to Lion dancers at Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple in Hacienda Heights. (Photo by Watchara Phomicinda

Thousands turned out to celebrate Chinese New Year at the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple on Thursday as families clambered up Hacienda Boulevard to reach the mountain monastery nestled in the Puente Hills.

The Year of the Ram began under picture postcard blue skies framed by the brilliant red temple arches.

“We had more than 400 people lined up to get when we opened the gates at 5 a.m.,” reported Miao Hsi, the temple director.

The faithful arrived before dawn for their annual pilgrimage up the hill. Participants took three steps, then bowed and prayed to show their devotion to Buddha.

Long lines formed at the shrines — everyone waiting their turn to pray for health and a prosperous new year. Sweet incense awakened the senses as families prayed to their ancestors.

Most wore bright red clothing that matched hundreds of Chinese lanterns hung around the temple. Walnut Councilwoman Mary Su came wearing an embroidered crimson gown.

“I only wear this outfit once a year, you’re supposed to wear something new so you have prosperity the whole year long,” Su said.

Su, who is not a Buddhist, said Chinese New Year represents family and culture for her.

“It’s an opportunity for our family to get together and celebrate,” Su said. “The whole family stayed up until midnight, so we could start the new year together.”

Read more in Rich Irwin’s story RAM.

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