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The world begins celebrating 2013

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"Let there be no New Year celebrations across the country. It will be a major tribute to the departed soul," said Praveen Khandelwal, secretary-general of the Confederation of All India Traders, an umbrella group of operators of shops and businesses across the country.

In a field in Myanmar's largest city, Yangon, workers were testing a giant digital countdown screen with the backdrop of the revered Shwedagon pagoda.

Arranged by local Forever Media group and Index Creative Village, a Thai event organizer, the celebration is the first public New Year countdown in Myanmar, a country ruled for almost five decades by military regimes that discouraged or banned big public gatherings.

"We are planning this public New Year event because we want residents of Yangon to enjoy the public countdown like in other countries," said Win Thura Hlaing, managing director of Forever Blossom company, a subsidiary of Forever Media.

With live music performances by celebrities, light shows, food stalls, fireworks and other activities, the countdown is expected to draw 50,000 people, Win Thura Hlaing said.

Jakarta's street party centers on a 7-kilometer (4-mile) thoroughfare closed to all traffic from nightfall until after midnight. Workers erected 16 large stages along the normally car-clogged, eight-lane highway through the heart of the city. Indonesia's booming economy is a rare bright spot amid global gloom and is bringing prosperity — or the hope of it — to Indonesians.

Spirits in the capital have been further raised by the election of a new, populist governor who is pledging to tackle the city's massive infrastructure problems.

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