Year of the Dragon: Bangkok celebrates Chinese culture and diplomatic relations
Lunar New Year is being celebrated across continent, under the sign of the Dragon. Astrologers predict high birth rates and catastrophes. For Thailand, the holiday is an opportunity to enshrine 37 years of diplomatic relations between Bangkok and Beijing. In the capital and 10 provinces traditional performances scheduled.
Bangkok (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Several Asian countries have begun celebrating the start of the Year of the Dragon, which occurs today in conjunction with the Lunar New Year. Deafening fireworks greeted the strongest of the zodiac signs, hoping it will instill the two main characteristics in the continent: power and wealth. From Malaysia to South Korea millions of people have covered long distances to be reunited with family and celebrate the New Year with dance and song dedicated to the dragon.

According to tradition, the sign is a symbol of fidelity, good fortune and prestige in Vietnam, China and other Asian nations, and in 2012 there will be a boom in births. But astrologers warn, disaster can not be excluded: Hong Kong soothsayer Alion Yeo predicts "frequent earthquakes" in the Chinese province of Sichuan, Pakistan and Indonesia, however, all are seismic zones and have been the scene of devastating quakes. He also predicts "storms and floods" in the south-east of China "and in Thailand" which, last year, experienced "the worst floods in 50 years."

In Thailand, the celebrations for the Year of the Dragon coincide with the 37th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Bangkok and Beijing. For the occasion, the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) has organized festivals running until January 29, with events in the capital and other 10 provinces of the country. China has participated in the preparation for the festivities, which also involved Thai government agencies and private companies.

Today in Bangkok two days dedicated to the Chinatown Festival 2012 begin, with the participation of Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn, who chaired the opening ceremony. Two cultural events are in the program: the first from Thailand and the second organized by the Chinese Ministry of Culture. "It will be the best celebration for the Lunar New Year in Thailand" ensures Sukhumbhand Paribatra, governor of the capital, because it combines "the best entertainment, shows, delicious food and precious good luck charms."

In the northern province of Chiang Mai (pictured) festivities are planned for January 23 and 24: the China National Opera will perform tomorrow, followed by a procession led by the Dragon and the Golden Lion, and finally, the parade of ethnic Chinese immigrants belonging to the Tai Seua tribe. To the south, in the province of Phuket, celebrations will begin January 28 and will end on January 30. Among the scheduled events, a procession to pay homage to the Thai King, a play in the Portuguese colonial style and performances that enhance traditional culture. The local population will pay homage to the goddess of compassion and grace, as well as many other Chinese deities and guardian spirits.