Dragon Boat Festival

Gongs, drums, and horns urge rowers in racing boats to go faster. The rowers in each boat follow the rhythm of their drummer. As the drums beat faster, the boats skim over the water like racing dragons in honour of a poet who died long ago.

The poet was Qu Yuan. More than 2,000 years ago, Qu Yuan fell into a river. When people saw what had happened, they put their boats into the water and raced to rescue him. But his body was never found. Ever since Qu Yuan disappeared, the Chinese have remembered the race to find him with the Dragon Boat Festival.

The big event of the festival is a colourful boat race. Each boat is painted like a dragon.

Chinese people throughout Asia and in other parts of the world enjoy the Dragon Boat Festival every summer. This celebration comes in the month of the fifth moon on the Chinese calendar – between May 28 and June 28.

Today’s celebrations symbolize the vain attempts of the friends and citizens who raced down the river to save the respected Chu Yuan. There are half a dozen sites in Hong Kong today that participate in the dragon boat races.

A dragon boat is a huge war canoe traditionally made from teak that has a dragon’s head carved into the bow and a dragon’s tail carved at the stern. The boats can range up to 100 feet in length and seat anywhere from 20 to 80 paddlers, varying in size. A sacred ritual is held before the race when the eyes are painted on, which is said to “bring the boat to life.” A drummer who sits mid-boat and keeps the time of the oar strokes on a huge drum accompanies all boats.

The dragon boat races are daylong events. All kinds of organizations from around the globe such as police, fireman, army, embassies, and even local journalists unions, travel to Hong Kong and enter teams for the races.

A gunshot sets the boats off and the beating drums and cymbals from the crowded shores fill the harbors with noise. The races last all day; on the shores of Hong Kong people celebrate with lively song and dance, rooting on their team.

It is believed that the Dragon Boat Festivals repel evil and bring luck in the summer months.

Picture Credit : Google