ON a misty afternoon in February, Lingyin Temple, a fourth-century Buddhist site that is one of China’s most important sanctuaries, felt more like a carnival than a place of worship. In large multigenerational packs, festive families were gathered for the Lunar New Year holiday, tossing fistfuls of ceremonial paper money into huge open fire pits and waving incense sticks as they jostled through crowds on their way to visit the 80-foot-high Buddha that is the building’s centerpiece. All the while they were downing fried tofu on sticks and corn on the cob and taking photos of everything on digital cameras. My family and I, possessing the only Western faces in the crowd, qualified as a photo coup — especially my towheaded toddler. “Look over here, foreign baby!” a young mother shouted as she held up her baby next to mine. The holiday period may officially last only a week, but the celebratory mood in Hangzhou seems to have permanently taken over this ever more vital city.