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Chinese Dragon Boat Fest

Just when we thought we couldn’t get enough of Kung Fu Panda, here’s a dragon treat for the sports and culture enthusiasts out there! How does a dragon boat race sound to you this month, where everyone eats rice dumplings and drinks traditional realgar wine while boat fans cheer and urge boat paddlers on to the finish line? Titillating enough to want to hop on the next flight to China? Join us as we dive into more details of this fest!

What?

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as the Tuen Ng or Duanwu Festival, a classic and important celebration all across China.

Where?

Predominantly, China.

Which would undeniably include Hong Kong, Taiwan, Yueyang, Guizhou Province, Hangzhou, Zhejiang, Singapore and Macau.

When?

Fifth day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar, which turns out to be June 9 in the Gregorian calendar this year! If it helps, most cities and prefectures of China will have holidays from June 9-11 this year.

What’s all the excitement about?

From a legend to a sporting event, the dragon boat racing is a folk festival brimming with traditions and superstitions galore! Some theories even suggest that it possibly originates from dragon worship. So you have all these dragon boat teams paddling harmoniously and hurriedly, accompanied by the sound of beating drums and cheering spectators. It is said that the winning team will have good luck and a happy life in the following year.

How did it all start?

This custom essentially commemorates how the people of Chu went out on their boats to seek the body of Qu Yuan, the reputed Chinese scholar, poet and minster at the time of the Zhou Dynasty (343–278 BC). This attempt to rescue him is now celebrated and has long been a traditional holiday in China.

Customs & festivities!

On this day, people also clean their houses, courtyards, and hang mugwort and calamus leaves on doors to keep diseases at bay and it is also believed to bring good luck into the family. Wooden boats traditionally made out of teak wood, are shaped and decorated in the form of a Chinese dragon. The most popular festival food includes the sticky rice dumplings (zongzi) and the realgar wine which is a Chinese alcoholic drink consisting of fermented cereals and powdered realgar.

During the Dragon Boat Festival, perfumed pouches with herbs and spices are hung around kids’ necks or tied to the front of garments as an ornament. Another cool custom is how they tie a five-colour silk tread to a child’s wrists, ankles and around their necks, believed to contain magical and healing properties. I feel the chi vibes around me buzzing already!

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Alifya Thingna - Associate Director | Key Accounts Having grown up around the Middle East and India, Alifya is a shy, yet friendly and colourful personality with a keen interest in human psychology, ethnology and contemporary dance forms. An aesthete by nature, she is extremely passionate about getting to know new people, immersing herself in new cultures, writing and doing the 'little things' that make this world a better place to live in. She also has a Masters degree in French literature, enjoys biking and is the modern definition of a logophile and an equalist.