Lunar New Year Celebrations Begin

Lunar New Year celebrations have begun in China and some neighboring countries to mark the start Monday of the Year of the Ox.

Across China, hundreds of millions of people set off fireworks at temple fairs and hurried to train and bus stations Sunday to get home for family reunions.Celebrations were marred late Sunday by an explosion near a police station in Shanghai. Chinese state media say at least one person was killed.

In Vietnam, at least 40 people died when a ferry overloaded with shoppers for the New Year festival, known as Tet in Vietnam, sank Sunday.

As Tibetans prepared to mark the Losar holiday, Tibet's exiled spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, released an open letter to the Chinese people saying he prays that China will create a harmonious society in the coming year.

In Japan, 28-year-old Asashoryu Akinori won the New Year Grand Sumo Tournament on Sunday while Mongolians in his home town of Ulan Bator ushered in the new year, Tsagaan Sar.

Millions of South Koreans faced heavy traffic and freezing temperatures in recent days to travel to their home towns to celebrate the holiday.

Chinese immigrants around the world are holding celebrations to mark the start of the Year of the Ox according to the Chinese lunar calendar.

The ox, one of 12 animals in the Chinese zodiac, symbolizes calm, hard work and resolve.

(Voice of America)

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