Celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese Lunar Calendar, the Dragon Boat festival or the Duanwu Jie, as it is known locally, is an affair of colours, good spirit and well, boats adorned with the favourite mythical creature of the Chinese, the dragon. The Chinese are known to be fond of the dragon or at least the dragon is most associated with the Chinese and their traditions and hence, the Dragon Boat Festival of China attracts attention on the global scale. Traditionally, Chinese fishing communities are the mainstays of dragon boat racing. But the races are also popular with businesses, schools, and institutions, who often throw together crews as a fun team-building exercise. People from all around the globe come to either participate or watch the Dragon Boat Festival which is celebrated with vast differences around the country yet the background and the story and even the celebrations are primarily the same.
Stories and myths link the festival to a late 300 B. C. poet Qu Yuan. Qu was banished from the court of the Chu state because he was against the corruption that happened in the kingdom at that point of time and he criticized it a lot. Qu Yuan drowned himself in the rivers. Later, they threw rice dumplings into the river as an offering to his spirit, and so that the fish wouldn’t feed on his remains. They also continued racing along the water with beating drums to ward off evil spirits, giving rise to the holiday’s two best-known traditions. In honour of this great man, poetry reading sessions in the Hubei province, which was Qu’s birthplace ensue during the time of the Duanwu Jie.
When is The Dragon Boat Celebrated in Singapore and China?
The festival would be celebrated on 7 June 2019 in China and Singapore
The boats on Dragon Boat Festival
A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft originating from the Pearl River Delta region of China's southern Guangdong Province. These were made of teak, but in other parts of China, different kinds of wood are used. Almost all of the boats have the dragon headdress or a dragon head made out of paper on the front of the boat and that makes it looks like the people are travelling on the back of a dragon and the entire sight hence looks like dragons competing against each other. The more colourful the head, the more dramatic the competition looks. All the boaters are well protected and equipped with life jackets. There are lifeguards stationed at all places too.
In the Shaanxi province, the boats are basically bamboo rafts whereas the participants from the Huzhou community use small and circular almost saucer-like fishing boats to compete. There is a lot of variety amongst the boats that are seen during this festival and that is a wonderful sight to see.
The Wheres(Where is Dragon Festival Celebrated?) and the Whats(What do people do on Dragon Festival?)
The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated all across China. This is like a huge celebration for the Chinese and they take utmost joy in participating in this festival. People of all ages, women, children and teenagers too, dress up in long, flowing garments. There are performances by all kinds of people and all of them are breathtakingly choreographed and executed.
In the Fuzhou area, there are boat racing tournaments held and it’s pretty serious business. Boat racing is a highly athletically demanding sport and hence the tournaments are only for those who are willing to take up this challenge.
In the southern town of Shilou though, the festival isn’t all about competing and isn’t this intense. In here, people and boaters pay their respects to the older generations in the nearby temples and complete their journey by taking a lot of stops in between.
People from Miao ethnicity wear traditional costumes which include women wearing large silver headdresses. They also don huge silver neck ornaments and their entire outfit as a whole looks very attractive and aesthetic.
In the southwest province of Guizhou, a women’s team powers the world’s longest dragon boat and hence a lot of people come to see it.
In the eastern city of Xiuyu, children wear dyed eggs as amulets.
For the palate(Food to eat on Dragon Boat Festival)
More than anything, the food and the culinary culture of China is depicted through the festival. There are a few customary dishes that steal the show at the festival.
The first one being the Zongzi which is essentially rice wrapped in leaves. The ingredients going into the making of this special rice can be both, sweet and savoury. There are usually beans and mushrooms in the stuffing and then the rice is filled within these triangular leaf pockets of a few inches. Most of the times a lot of women come together and make these pockets and then sell or just distribute them among the community.
The Suichang community, in eastern China, makes a piece of bacon filled Zongzi which is more than 60 ft long and they make it so for the dragons and to come together as well and celebrate.
All in all, the Dragon Boat Festival is filled with peppy music, colourful performances, excellent food and a participation number from across the globe like no other. Truly, a sight to witness in all its entirety.