The busiest day of the year in Bronkhorstspruit

Incense prayer at Chinese New Year, Nan Hua Temple

Lighting incense for good luck at Chinese New Year celebrations at Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, February 2013.

Lighting incense for good luck at Chinese New Year celebrations at Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, February 2013.

Incense prayer at Chinese New Year, Nan Hua Temple

Lighting incense for good luck at Chinese New Year celebrations at Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, February 2013.

Lighting incense for good luck at Chinese New Year celebrations at Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit, Gauteng, February 2013.

Thousands of people annually flock to the small town of Bronkhorstspruit, 50km outside of Pretoria, to get a taste of Chinese culture and celebrate Chinese New Year. The festivities take place at Nan Hua temple, the largest Buddhist temple and seminary in Africa.

Covering more than 600 acres, this temple is the African headquarters of the Fo Guang Shan order. Vivian Koo, the temple’s public relations officer, says the festival has grown dramatically over the last five years, and this year welcomed between 13,000 and 14,000 people.

“This festival is an opportunity to experience Chinese culture and is not affiliated with any political groups,” says Koo.

A Chinese national who has resided in South Africa for the past 35 years, says 2013 as the Year of the Snake is auspicious for two reasons.

“The snake is one of the few animals that only goes forward when it moves and the way it sheds its skin every winter also means a chance for new beginnings.”

Chinese immigrants first came to South Africa to work on the gold mines in the 18th century. The strong trade relations between South Africa and China mean that there are still many Chinese people migrating to Africa each year.