The 2009 Qintong Dragon Boat Festival in Taizhou
Over a hundred thousand visitors annually make their way to the Qintong Water Park near Taizhou, Jiangsu to enjoy one of China's great spectacles, the Dragon Boat Festival.
The Spring 2009 Qintong Dragon Boat Festival Extravaganza attracts visitors from near and far, and they witness one of the great colorful out-door spectaculars in the Province of Jiangsu, only an hour from my home in Taizhou. This Dragon Boat Festival has become one of those special cultural highlights, most unique to China, a presentation I wish never to miss.
I truly appreciate the efforts my friends at Taizhou Teachers College, Arthur and Susie, have made for me again this year, as they surprised me with a VIP ticket, and these passes are very difficult to obtain. Everyone who is anyone in Taizhou will pull every string to become part of this colorful festival.
Mike in the Foreign Affairs Office of Taizhou has also been wonderful in remembering my interests in the cultural events offered in Taizhou, and I am grateful for everyone of his invitations.
Last year, the weather did not co-operate, but this year we had a wonderful spring day, adding joy and color to the festivities. In this photo essay, I invite you to accompany me through the morning's spectacular: "The Qintong Dragon Boat Festival, 2009"
I will let the photos speak of the
The Dragon Boat Festivals are usually celebrated during April and May in many part of China.
Secure with my VIP ticket, my seat offers a spectacular and panoramic view of the annual Dragon Boat event at the Qintao Park, near Taizhou.
excitement of this premier event, hosted annually by the city of Taizhou.
Perhaps you will enjoy some HISTORY and commentary on the "Dragon Boat Festivals and Dragon Boat Races" in China:
There are several versions about the origin of the Dragon Boat Festival. The one that seems to be most honored commemorates a gentleman named, Qu Yuan who lived cerca 340 BC to 278 BC in the state of Chu.
Qu Yuan was an important "dafu", a senior state official in feudal China. It was the time of the "Warring States Period", when 7 States fought over supremacy. (See if you can remember them: The States of Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei and Qin)
Qin was the most powerful state, and it intended to conquer the other six states. The state of Qin would then dominate the world.
Mr. Qu's capabilities were recognized by the King of Chu. To him he advocated internal political reforms and co-operation with the other states to fight against the domination of the state of Qin. This was met with the opposition from his fellow officials, who began to speak badly of Mr. Qu in front of the
The Dragon in China is of great significance.
The symbolism of the Dragon in China is one of strength. During the time of the dynasties, it was associated only with the emperor, and only he could wear it embroidered on his royal garments.
king. The King of Chu and his "dafu", Mr. Qu, grew distant and Mr. Qu was driven from the capital city.
Without the other kings as allies, the State of Chu was defeated by the State of Qin.
The exiled Mr. Qu grew despondent at these turn of events and in grieve jumped into the Miluo river and ended his life. (That day was the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 BC, the day on which the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated.)
When the people heard the news, that their respected, though exiled, Mr. Qu Yuan had drowned, they grieved and tried to retrieve his dead body but failed. To save the body from the fish, people threw food into the river to distract their attention.
Since that time people always row dragon boats on rivers around China to mourn over this righteous official, Qu Yuan, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month every year. They filled bamboo cans with rice and throw them into the rivers as a memorial ceremony.
It is said, that once someone met Mr. Qu Yuan by the river and Mr. Qu said: "The food
The Dragon Boat Festival has enjoyed success for thousands of years.
There is much pride around Taizhou, the home of President Hu Jintao, as it hosts one of the great Dragon Boat Festivals in China, attracting visitors and dignitaries from around the world.
you gave me has been robbed by the dragon. You'd better wrap the rice with bamboo or reed leaves and fasten it with colored threads, for these things are what dragons are most afraid of."
The people began to commemorate Mr. Qu Yuan with "zongzi", which are made of glutinous rice wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves, and held together by colored threads. The "zongzi" has become the traditional food of the Dragon Boat Festival. This tradition has been handed down from the generations.
The second legend of the Dragon Boat Festival is also related to a historical figure from the Warring States Period of China, almost 2,500 years ago. His name was Wu Zixu. His father and brothers had been killed by the King of Chu, and he sought refuge- and fought with the State of Wu to defeat the King of Chu at the city of Ying.
After the victory, Wu Zixu dug out the dead body of the King of Chu from his tomb and whipped it three hundred times as a kind of revenge.
Later, the State of Wu got involved in a war with the State of Yue. Mr. Wu Zixu
Each village will be known by its color.
Hundreds of boats, manned by the villagers of the surrounding towns, compete for a space on the Qintao lake.
advised the King of Wu not to compromise with the State of Yue, but this king too was influenced by false accusations against Mr. Wu Zixu. The king granted Mr. Wu Zixu a sword to commit suicide. Before he killed himself he said: "After my death, please dig out my eyes and hang them on the eastern door of the capital of Wu, so that I can see how Yue's army march into Wu's land and conquer it."
As you can imagine, the King of Wu was irritated by these words. He quickly issued an order to put Mr. Wu Zixu's body in a leather sack and throw it into the river on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, now remembered as the Dragon Boat Festival.
A third version of the origin of Dragon Boat Festival is said to honor Cao E, a daughter of nobility in the Eastern Han Dynasty, almost 2,000 years ago. Miss Cao E's father drowned in the river and the body could not be located for days. Cao E was only 14 years old, and sat distraught day and night by the river, and let her tears fall into its waters,
It is easy to see, that this festival takes months of planning.
Thousands of locals take part in this wonderful Spring- time festival, one of the great tourist attractions in Jiangsu.
as she did not give up hope. Finally she jumped into the river on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It was five days later, that she returned with her father's body.
To commemorate Cao E's faithful behavior, the people built a temple in her honor, and of course it is called the "Cao E Temple", located at the place where she jumped into the river. Her village was also renamed the "Cao E Village", and the river into which she jumped is now also named "Cao E River".
The Dragon Boat Festival has survived more than 2,000 years in China, and the custom of celebrating is almost the same in the different areas of China. There are Dragon-Boat races, wearing perfume sachets, decorating the home, and eating "Zongzi".
Whenever the fifth lunar month approaches, Chinese families will begin to soak glutinous rice, wash bamboo or reed leaves, and shape the "Zongzi". (Take a look at the attached photos of "Zongzi" offered to me by my students at TTC.) It was in the Jin Dynasty that the "Zongzi" was officially accepted as the food eaten on The Dragon Boat Festival, and is loved by everyone.
Presentations are offered on land, sea, and air.
It is a sea of color on water and land, and spectators are surprised by an extravaganza they will not quickly forget.
It could also be given to relatives and friends as presents.
With time, a variety of "Zongzi" have developed. They can contain nuts, beans,fruits, vegetables and meats. This custom has also spread to countries like Korea, Japan and other Southeast Asian countries. Its shape has changed and its content is modified as the popularity of this food continues even today.
This is also a time when homes are cleaned and decorated with festival symbols called 'mugwort and calamus' to expel evil spirits and prevent diseases. They will also hang the narrow, long, and aromatic leaves of the Aihao water plant. This plant is reputed to make people refreshed, strengthen their bones and kill insects. For this reason, the Dragon Boat Festival is also known as the "Health Festival".
Another tradition is hanging a picture of a historical character named Zhong Kui to guard their family from ghosts. The story is told like this: Tang Dynasty Emperor Tang Xuanzong (685 AD - 762 AD) was suffering from the plague. One day he dreamed of two ghosts chasing each other in the imperial court.
The younger ghost was dressed in red and stole Concubine Yang's sachet and the
Festive and Exciting!
The Dragon Boat Festival has become an event I hope never to miss.
emperor's flute. The elder ghost was dressed in a gown and cap and soon caught the younger ghost and dug his eyes out and swallowed them. Emperor Xuanzong cried out in fear, but was calmed by the elder ghost who said: "My name is Zhong Kui. I failed the imperial examination for a position in the court, but i would like to help your majesty get rid of ghosts."
When the emperor woke up, he instantly recovered from the plague and had lost his fear. He asked the painter Wu Daozi to draw a picture of this Zhong Kui based on his dream. Then he issued an order, that the picture should be hung on the Dragon Boat Festival to guard against ghosts.
There is also the custom of wearing sachets on Dragon Boat Festival. Though the sachets are worn to prevent evil, and contain some aromatic substances, they actually become a kind of decoration on the clothes, are usually wrapped in silk and come in all imaginable, colorful shapes.
And of course no festival is complete without a little alcohol. The custom of drinking Realgar Liquor is especially popular among the population around the Yangtze River.
Even the Dragon spews in colors on this festive day.
One of dozens of large Dragon Boats powers and displays in front of the Grand Stand.
Realgar is a kind of mineral containing sulfide. According to Chinese legends it is reputed to keep vipers and insects away.
In the popular Chinese tale, "The Story of the White Snake", the human-shaped White Snake returns to her original form after drinking the Realgar Liquor.
Thus, people began to believe, that poisonous critters such as snakes, scorpions and centipedes can be scared off by the Realgar Liquor, and a strong dose of the drink will keep them healthy and "very happy", of course. I am looking for a bottle now and will share with you my experiences with this Realgar Liquor.
HAPPY "LABOR DAY/MAY DAY" TO ALL OF MY FRIENDS. ENJOY THE FESTIVITIES WITH YOUR FAMILY AND LOVED ONES.
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