Thousands of people attend the Chinese New Year celebrations at the Nan Hua Temple in Bronkhorstspruit. Picture: Sakhile Ndlazi
BEIJING in South Africa - this is the best description of festivities during the celebration of the Chinese New Year at the Nan Hua Buddhist Temple in Bronkhorstspruit yesterday.

Thousands of locals and visitors were transported to China without a plane or passport as they flocked to the breathtaking temple to celebrate the occasion.

And the Chinese did not disappoint, dishing out a colourful display.

It is the Year of the Dog in the Chinese calendar, and people born in this year are described as independent, sincere, communicative and loyal.

According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal, occurring in a 12-year cycle. The year of birth, and the animal it represents, determine a person's personality traits.

Although each of the 12 animals gets an outing every dozen years, there are different varieties - and this year is the first Year of the Earth Dog since 1958. Anyone born in an Earth Dog year will be communicative, serious, and responsible in the workplace.

The celebrations started with firecrackers, followed by a Chinese dragon dance, and ended with a play-off between three dragons to win the heart of a lover. Other entertainment, such as martial arts and dances, took place throughout the day.

Inside the main temple people burnt candles as a sign of goodwill, and were given a brief history of Chinese culture and heritage.

Nan Hua is the largest Buddhist temple in Africa, covering more than 2.4km².