Prayers, fireworks and loud celebration were the highlights as millions of East and South-East Asian people welcomed the Year of the Dragon on January 23. The Year of Dragon is associated with power, might, wealth and good luck.

Towns and cities in China, Hong Kong, South Korea, Malaysia and Indonesia are decorated with colourful lanterns, and dragon dances are organised everywhere. People were seen feasting and greeting each other. Thousands of people in the Philippines joined in celebrations as the Lunar New Year was declared a holiday for the first time.

These countries are likely to witness a baby boom this year as babies born this year, particularly boys, it is believed, are likely to be wealthy and lucky.

Mid-wives in the Chinese capital Beijing and neighbouring Tianjin are charging more for delivery babies in the year of dragon and beds in Beijing's maternity hospitals are booked till August, according to a Xinhua report.

The Chinese New Year is also elebrated in other parts of the world as the Chinese diaspora is spread across the globe.

Chinese New Year 2012: Year of the Dragon Sparks Baby Boom [SLIDESHOW]

Fireworks light up the skyline of Beijing as residents celebrate the start of the Chinese new year.Reuters
Paramilitary policemen maintain order as people pray for good fortune on the first day of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Beijing.Reuters
Members of the Chinese community give red packets, monetary gifts given during holidays or special occasions, to children during celebrations at Peruvian capital Lima's ChinatownReuters
Hundreds of people watch a Chinese lion dance in Meeting House Square, Dublin (Ireland), as part of the Chinese New Year festival.Press Association
Local residents burn incense sticks as part of Chinese new year celebrations at the Old City God Temple in Yuyuan Garden in Shanghai.Reuters
Soldiers perform a dragon-dance in front of Tay Kei Sek temple in Semarang, Central Java (Indonesia).Reuters
People rush to place joss sticks at the Guan Yin temple in Singapore.Reuters