As intriguing as its name, the Chinese Dragon Boat Festival, has a history that dates back to two thousand years. Formerly, known as a hygiene day, when people would use herbs to dispel viruses and diseases, this festival finds its closest association to the celebrated Chinese poet Qu Yuan.
A minister in the State of Chu – one of the seven Warring States, Qu Yuan was a patriotic poet, who penned down his love and devotion for the country in his poems, and his composition Li Sao (The Lament) is still considered a masterpiece. However, he died a tragic death after drowning himself in the river, rather than see his country conquered by the state of Qin.
To mark his death, this festival is celebrated across China and people take part in dragon boat racing and eat Zongzi, a glutinous rice dumpling, on the occasion. In some regions in China, people also wear a perfume pouch, tie five-color silk thread and hang mugwort leaves or calamus on their doors. This festival was included in UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list in 2009.
One of the most interesting sights during the three-day holiday is the dragon boat racing, where people row the traditional dragon-shaped boats. Legend holds that the race originates from the idea that people who rowed their boats to save Qu Yuan who drowned himself. Now, this sport is held in Japan, Vietnam and Britain as well.
Watch as the 100-year-old dragon boat race starts Saturday on Tuo River that cuts through Phoenix Ancient Town of Fenghuang county in central China’s Hunan province to celebrate the #DragonBoatFestival pic.twitter.com/veUJeVf8Qh
— People’s Daily,China (@PDChina) June 18, 2018
Here’s a brief glimpse of the exciting boat race that takes China by storm during the festivities.
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