Mao fans bow before gold image of Communist China's founder
SHAOSHAN, China (AFP) - Thousands of admirers of Communist China's founder Mao Zedong flocked to his home town on Wednesday to bow before his graven image - including one statue of solid gold - before the 120th anniversary of his birth.
Pilgrims from across the country lit firecrackers and offered flowers in Shaoshan, where Mao was born 120 years ago on Thursday, to celebrate a man blamed for tens of millions of deaths but widely viewed as the father of modern China.
"He is a great leader who sacrificed his interests so we could be liberated," said retired teacher Fu Mengnan, after prostrating herself on the ground in front of a giant bronze statue of the leader.
"I have an image of Chairman Mao at home, and bow in front of it every morning and evening," the 56-year-old added, saying: "I think he is a Buddha, and I am wishing him happy birthday to show that I'll never forget him." The anniversary has a special resonance in China, which traditionally measured time in 60-year cycles.