This past weekend, our city had its own Dragon Boat festival. The sponsored races are held to raise money for a Amateur sport fund which helps community programs and amateur athletes.
You can learn more about the history and traditions of the Dragon Boat festival, Duanwu, which was celebrated in China on June 12th, in our earlier post here.
|Can you read the Chinese characters? We recognized the top one for "water" (though it looks very much like "eternity"), and the bottom one for "mountain"|
Before the races began, which would be ongoing throughout the day, the dragon needs to be awakened. The dragon heads and tails are stored over the year, and brought out to be attached to the boats for the races. The dragon spirit needs to be awakened to imbue the boats, and the participants, with energy and fervor. This is done with incense, and by painting the dragon's eyes. You can see in the picture above that a ceremonial dragon head had new red dots painted into the eyes. And from there the races began.
Along with the paddlers, a standard crew includes a drummer at the bow facing the paddlers, and a steerer at the rear.
The drummer uses a rhythmic drum beat in order to synchronize the paddlers and increase their speed. They often call out encouragements.
I made a beeline to the Confucius Institute booth :) They offered to write each of the girls names in Chinese calligraphy, which turned out so nice. They also prepared oolong tea for tastings, and treated us to beautiful music played on a Gu Zheng (above, right). Pea found the music hypnotizing!
You can find all our posts about the Dragon Boat festival, including a recipe and some crafts, here: