Guangdong Dragon Boat Festival
The Guangdong Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Ji Festival, is a very special event in the Chinese calendar and a favorite with travellers. The boat races are said to be conducted in homage to legendary poet and patriot Qu Yuan, an honourable minister who drowned himself in protest against corruption during the Warring States Period (475 BC to 221 BC). It is also a celebration of water and a general thanksgiving for good fortune. Dragons, in ancient Chinese culture, were not merely ferocious monsters, they were symbols of life force and rulers of lakes, rivers and seas; usually they were powerful but benevolent. The pageantry and festivities at the Dragon Boat Festival are riotous, colourful and fun but they are also a form of worship and a homage to cultural heritage. Guangzhou is a city built around rivers, canals and waterways and the festival is particularly special and significant in this city. International teams from the US, Canada, Australia and Singapore now compete but so do teams from all over China; many villages enter teams and they are competitive because a good performance is seen as a positive omen for the future. Nowadays the dragon boat is much smaller and faster than its predecessor which was said to be over 98 feet (30 m) long and over 6 foot (2 m) high.
Date: 12 June 2013.