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Dragon Boat Festival
Author:Billy / Update time:2010-07-25 19:50:56 / Hits:0



Up to 45,000 people from the surrounding area attend Dragon Boat Festival in Shidong, making it one of the biggest in the region. Preparations start days before the festival---food and rice wine are prepared and villagers rush around, trying to finish any outstanding chores. The 22m dragon boats are taken out from their specially constructed shelters and a willow dragon's head is added and decked with horns and red pendants. You can see these dragon boat shelters any time of the year in villages around Shidong.
  On the date of the festival a team of 40 rowers directed by the drumming of the Gutou, a respected community elder in charge of organising the festival, pushes the dragon boat out onto the river. As the rowers head downstream they call at all of the riverside villages to pick up presents of ducks, geese and even pigs, while fending off copious toasts of rice wine. Villagers toast the benevolent dragon and ask for happiness and good fortune for the year ahead.
  The festival commemorates the slaying of a bloodthirsty dragon by a local fisherman, in retaliation for the dragon's fatal attack on his son. It is said that all the villagers from the region came out to celebrate the death of the dragon and to take a share of the dragon's body. Villager from Pingzhai village got the head, Tanglong got the body, Laotun got the tail, while Shidong turned up late and got stuck with the heart, liver and lungs. The festival is still held over four consecutive days in these four villages, starting on the 24th of the fifth lunar month in Pingzhai, and reaching a climax in Shidong on the 27th.
  The Miao Dragon Boat Festival has no links to the Han Dragon Boat Festival, which celebrates the death of the Chinese poet Qu Yuan, and with races instead of visits to relatives.



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