The Dragon Boat was pink! Sleek, long, bright, and oared by breast cancer survivors and their friends, she flew across the water in sync to the beat of the drummer who sat at her helm.
She was magnificent.
We were at the annual Dragon Boat Festival, a joint venture between local Chinese organizations and our Families with Children from China (FCC) chapter. As I sat eating my zong zi (Chinese dumpling) and watching my kids and their friends play games in the cool sunlit grass, I thought about the history and folklore behind the second most celebrated and revered Chinese celebration.
The Dragon Boat Festival began as a tradition for driving out evil spirits and disease and helping one to find inner peace. The festival was later enriched by the legend of Qu Yuan, a patriotic poet and a minister to the Zhou Emperor, a deeply loved and respected public servant. The legend says that Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River (Hunan Provence) on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 278 BC, carrying a large stone and committing ritual suicide to protest a corrupt government. In an effort to save him, people raced out in boats, pounding drums to scare away the fish and water dragons. The tactics didn’t work. Qu Yuan was lost to them. They threw rice into the river to feed him and to keep the fish from eating his body. Nights later the ghost of Qu Yuan appeared to his friends saying that he a river dragon had killed him. He asked them to wrap their rice in a three-cornered silk fabric and throw it into the river to ward off the river dragon. These rice packages eventually became what are known today as zong zi, what I was eating.
It was a beautiful day; wonderful cultural exposure, good food, and Chinese games and crafts. A lion dance finished off the festival. - And we all did the 2400 year old tradition proud.