Outside the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco on Sunday, visitors queued up to get in line to ring a 16th century bell.
The Japanese temple bell weighs 2,100 pounds, and it is brought out only once a year for this end-of-the-year ceremony. Ringing the bell signifies leaving behind bad experiences or misfortune from the past year. It's rung 108 times to symbolize the 108 defilements of Buddhism, like greed and anger. According to Buddhist belief, these desires torment mankind.
The bell is normally rung on New Year's Eve, but since the Asian Art Museum isn't open on Mondays, it held the event on Sunday morning.
Participants took turns ringing the bell to leave behind unfortunate experiences and bad luck from the previous year.
"So then you can start the new year purified, refreshed, with good intentions and spreading peace and compassion throughout the land," said Deborah Clearwaters, director of education and interpretation at the museum.
Clearwaters said this year she's ringing the bell to help her come to terms with a recent death in the family.
"I think being more present and having gratitude for the people who are still in my life, that each moment is precious," Clearwaters said. "That's my intention in 2019."
In addition to the bell ringing, the ceremony also included a dance performance, a purification ritual and chanting of the Buddhist heart sutra.
"In Asia, we always make loud noises to ward off bad stuff and welcome the coming year," said Hazel Organista, who attended the event with her husband and two children.
Some attendees were there to ring away bad habits, while others hoped to leave behind the negative political atmosphere.
"It's a way to go inside yourself," said Carol Jean Wisnieski, who attends the bell-ringing every year, "and to realize what you hope and wish for both for yourself and for the future world this coming year."