Dragon Boat Festival Closes RT Office
The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Duanwu Festival, is a traditional holiday originating in China.
This year it will be a three-day holiday in China. RT Media’s office will be closed on June 25 to June 27 inclusive and will reopen on June 28 (Sunday).
Three of the most widespread activities conducted during Duanwu are:
- eating Zongzi—made of glutinous rice stuffed with different fillings and wrapped in bamboo leaves,
- drinking realgar wine (a traditional Chinese drink containing fermented cereals which are supposed to drive away evil and diseases, and
- racing on the waterways in dragon boats.
The Traditional Story
Many believe that the Dragon Boat Festival originated in ancient China based on the suicide of the poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom, Qu Yuan in 278 BCE.
Qu Yuan was a loyal minister of the King of Chu but his wisdom and intellectual ways antagonized other court officials. They accused him of false charges of conspiracy and he was exiled by the king. During his exile, Qu Yuan composed many poems to express his anger and sorrow towards his sovereign and people. and the Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated to commemorate this attempt at rescuing Qu Yuan.
The local people began the tradition of throwing sacrificial cooked rice into the river for Qu Yuan, while others believed that the rice would prevent the fishes in the river from eating Qu Yuan’s body. At first, the locals decided to make zongzi in hopes that it would sink into the river and reach Qu Yuan’s body. However, the tradition of wrapping the rice in bamboo leaves to make zongzi began the following year.
Zongzi is a glutinous rice ball with a filling and wrapped in corn leaves. The fillings can be egg, beans, dates, fruits, sweet potato, walnuts, mushrooms, meat, or a combination of them. They are generally steamed.
Realgar wine is an arsenic poison that has an increased effect after mixing with alcohol. It is a traditional Chinese drink containing fermented cereals and powered realgar that was used in ancient times.
It is also used as a disinfectant to spray into the corners of the room. Elders dip a finger into realgar wine and write a character on the children’s foreheads and spread it on their ears, noses, hands, and feet. It is believed that it will protect children from harm and diseases. There is an old saying that states, “Drinking realgar wine drives evils and diseases away.” Unfortunately, it is poisonous to drink, as has been proved by modern medicine.
A dragon boat is a human-powered boat or paddle boat that is traditionally made of teak wood to various designs and sizes.
They usually have brightly decorated designs that range anywhere from 12 meters to 30 meters in length, with the front end shaped like open-mouthed dragons, and the back end with a scaly tail. A sacred ceremony is performed before any competition in order to “bring the boat to life” by painting the eyes. The first team to grab a flag at the end of the course wins the race.
A dragon boat team usually consists of 20 paddlers sitting two abreast, a Cox who steers the dragon boat from the rear, and a drummer who sits at the front. The boat can have up to 80 rowers to power the boat, depending on the length. The team of paddlers work in unison to propel the boat forward from a standing start, the aim being to reach the finish line in the fastest time. Generally, a race consists of between 4 and 6 boats.
Teams can be all men, all women, or a mixed crew with equal numbers of both men and women. Timing, strength and endurance are 3 key elements of a successful team; the fourth and most critical is teamwork. It is for this reason that the sport has achieved such a high profile around the world.
The International Dragon Boat Federation (IDBF) is the international governing body for the team watersport and the IDBF Founding Members in Hong Kong the on June 24, 1991 were Australia, China, Taiwan, Great Britain, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Norway, the Philippines, Singapore, and the United States. There are now seventy-two member nations of the IDBF; classes of membership include Full Members and Basic & Associate Members.
The forty-four Full Members of the IDBF are: Australia, Austria, Canada, China, Chinese Taipei, Cyprus, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Ghana, Great Britain, Guam, Hong Kong, Hungary, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Macau, Moldova, Myanmar, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Philippines, Poland, Puerto Rico, Reunion Island, Russia, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Thailand, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United States of America, Vietnam.
The twenty-eight Basic & Associate Members of the IDBF are: Argentina, Armenia, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Brunei, Cameroon, Chile, Egypt, Estonia, Finland, French Polynesia, Georgia, Greece, Guadeloupe, Israel, Ivory Coast, Jamaica, Kenya, Lithuania, Malta, Monaco, Nepal, Nigeria, Panama, Portugal, Qatar, Romania.