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Dragon Boat Festival in China

Singh History of the Dragon Boat Festival in China: The story of the origin of the Dragon Boat festival, one of the principal traditional holidays in China, dates back to 340 BC, and commemorates the death of the poet and minister Qu Yuan. A minister of the State of Chu, Qu Yuan wanted the kingdom to fight against the powerful state of Qin, but was insulted by a fellow comrade, ZiLian, and consequently ostracized and exiled by the king.

dragon boat festival

During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote many patriotic poems, and became a favourite among the people. He was just and honourable, and loved the people of his state. In his twenty-eight years of exile, the state of Qin attacked and captured the Chu capital, Ying. Despaired at his country’s defeat, and refusing to bow down to the enemy, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River and drowned.

Upon hearing this, the local fishermen hauled out their boats and raced out onto the water to find him, but it was too late. They searched day and night for his body, but could not find it. Broken at the loss of their beloved poet and minister, people brought out eatables like eggs and sticky rice so the fish would consume them and leave Yuan’s body alone.

Thus, from every year since, the day of Qu Yuan’s death-the fifth day of the fifth month according to the Chinese calendar-is celebrated as the Dragon Boat Festival. This year, Jun 2nd is the projected date.

Customs and Traditions

The Dragon Boat Festival involves a lot of activities in its celebration, but the principle ones are Dragon Boat racing, preparing and eating Zings, wearing a perfumed pouch and tying a five colour silk thread.

The prime tradition is dragon boat racing, derived from the act of the fishermen racing out to find Qu Yuan’s body. A team of people rides oak boats in the shape of dragons. One team member sits at the front and beats a drum to boost morale and support rhythm. It is believed that the winning team becomes the harbinger of prosperity and health in their village.

Another tradition is preparing and eating Zongzi. Made out of sticky rice, it contains fillings made of jujube, fresh meat, egg yolk or sweet paste. It is also available in various shapes and made mostly at home. The tradition originates from the fishermen’s act of throwing rice in the water for fishes to eat.  People also hang perfumed pouches tied with five silk threads of different colors.

Sometimes, people also tie the threads around their children’s ankles, necks and wrists. The children are neither allowed to speak while the threads are secured nor permitted to remove them until the first rainfall of the summer, after which they throw them into the river. The belief goes that the threads ward off evils and keep diseases away.

Other traditions include hanging Calamus and Moxa on the front door in hope to cure illnesses, balancing raw eggs on their ends for luck, and drinking Hsiung Huang wine.

Visiting China during Dragon Boat festival:

The Dragon Boat festival is one of the best times to visit China. One can find plenty of food, music, culture and harmony. People can shop for souvenirs like figurines, pottery, miniatures and other articrafacts. The Chinese Visa is fairly easy to obtain by way of completing the formalities. And who better to celebrate a festival with than a dragon? So, pack your bags, get that flight and come to China to see the races.

Author bio

Sophieis a “dreamer”, an idealist at heart and dangerously sentimental. She is also a mom of two, a part time business woman, and a stand-in interior decorator for her restaurantsand a “change-maker”. She doing her research on Turkish visawhich provides you assistance to travel turkey. photo credit: ykpoon2010

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