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Dragon Boat Racing

September 23, 2010

The dragon boat race is the most important activity related to the dragon boat festival. The original aim of the boat race was to scare the fish away from eating the body of QuYuan, who was a poet in the end of warring states period. Why people at the past would be afraid that QuYuan’s body might be eaten by the fish? There is a story behind. It is said that QuYuan was a great poet and very loyal to his seigneur. He was once very trusted by his seigneur, but he latterly blamed himself of not being able to convince his seigneur not to make a wrong decision, which would bring an end to this reign. He loved his home, people and seigneur so much that he did not want to watch them suffer from the war or watch the whole reign went to an end. Thus, he jumped into the sea and died. Because of his virtue and loyalty, he gained much respect from the people and the Dragon Boat Festival was set as the commemoration day for QuYuan. People ride the dragon boat on the sea and play the drum loudly to scare the fish away. Also, long ago, people would even dump some rice dumplings into the sea, so that the fish won’t eat QuYuan’s body away.
When I was young, I thought this is just a boring festival with nothing special to do, but eating rice dumplings. I did not like to watch the dragon boat races shown on the television. However, few months ago, I went to Stanley with my friends. We watched the race there and I could finally feel the passion of this festival. People were very enthusiastic to the traditional race, and even foreigners joined the race. The ladies even dressed in traditional Chinese cheongsam. Besides, I saw many parents brought their kids there to watch the race, and grab the blessing from the dragon boat water. It is said that if children touch that water, they will grow up healthily in the coming year.
It is quite surprising to me that so many people would gather and watch the boat race there. I thought this festival was one of those being neglected and might disappear in the future gradually, but after this visit to Stanley, I see there is still hope in passing on this tradition to the next and next generations. Although this traditional practice might have transformed into a sport or competition that went away from its original aim, it might be another way out for this tradition to pass on.

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