Skooter reporting 06/24/12
The other day Hongkongers celebrated the Hong Kong's annual Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on 23 June this year, the city is chopped into two camps: the competitors and the spectators. The competitors used paddles and propel richly-decorated vessels through churning water toward the finish line, all to the beat of a drum at the boat’s bow. Meanwhile, the spectators simply drink a few beers, eat glutinous rice dumplings and noisily cheer on those racing in the stifling summer heat.
During the Tuen Ng Festival as it is known in Chinese, the modern-day tradition of racing dragon started around the legend of ancient poet Qu Yuan, who was not at home with the royals in the 4th Century. After being exiled from the kingdom, he committed suicide in a nearby river. Followers are said to have rowed boats along that river, pounding drums to keep spirits and fish from defiling his body. In addition to that they also dropped packets of rice securely wrapped in leaves for nourishment in the afterlife or, some reports claim, to divert the fish, which is why Hongkongers' eating of these rice dumplings, called zong, peaks this time of year.
We learned that the festivities take place in waterways across the territory, with each has its own separate character. To prove it we went to the ones in Stanley, on the south side of Hong Kong Island, and true enough there were corporate teams chock-full of expats paddles against a backdrop of yachts and junk boats laden with onlookers. Looking to the west, in Aberdeen's narrow harbor, 65 local teams compete. Out in the distant seaside town of Tai O, fishermen hold on an elaborate religious ritual before the races even begin. They planned their boats to four village temples to pick up icons of deities, which are paraded through the area to pacify the spirits that dwells in the waters.
Though many consider the Tuen Ng Festival the apex of dragon boat competitions, we learned that there are other events throughout the year. Particularly, the annual Hong Kong Dragon Boat Carnival in July in iconic Victoria Harbor, combines races of professional international teams and local paddlers with a San Miguel beer festival and other entertainment.
Enjoy the slideshow click on the links above...thank you.
So, if you missed the annual Dragon Boat Festival this year, don’t miss it next year!