Chinese Dragon Boat Races
The Chinese Dragon Boat Races today marked “Arrival Day” when the Chinese people first came to Trinidad. Held at the Anchorage just down the road from us, we wandered along to enjoy this significant celebration which has its roots in the original festival held in China - one with the longest history. The Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated by boat races in the shape of dragons. Competing teams row their boats to a drumbeat to reach the finish end first. Good drummers should be able to synchronise the drumming cadence with the strokes of the leading pair of paddlers, rather than the other way around.
There were plenty of side shows. The dragon dance. A man who could stand on light bulbs, lighting the panel with a switch in his right hand whilst picking a push bike up in his mouth. The boat races began as an attempt to rescue the patriotic poet Chu Yuan who drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Chinese people now throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water so the fish will eat well rather than the hero poet. This later on turned into the custom of eating tzungtzu and rice dumplings. The celebration is a time to seek protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. This is done by hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions and displaying portraits of the evil nemesis Chung Kuei. If you manage to stand an egg on its end at exactly twelve noon, the following year will be a lucky one.
Traditionally made of teak a dragon boat to a variety of designs and sizes, it is one of a family of traditional long boats found throughout Asia, Africa and the Pacific Islands. In modern times dragon boat racing became an international sport in Hong Kong in 1976 but has taken place annually in China over two thousand years. Dragon boat races are traditionally held as part of the annual Duanwu Festival or Duen Ng observance in China. 19th century European observers of the racing ritual, not understanding the significance of Duen Ng, referred to the spectacle as a "dragon boat festival" - a term that has stuck in the West. In December 2007, the Chinese Government added Duen Ng, Qingming and Mid-Autumn festivals to the national holidays observed in the People's Republic of China. Some of the races were really exciting with very close finishes. Many of the boats were crewed with a mix of Black, White and Chinese which was great to see. The first race was three boats full of cancer survivors, many schools were represented - the competition fierce and then the men's teams - all serious and muscular.
We watched the rain cloud come over, but being true Brits whilst everyone ran for shelter we were still there on our folding chairs
The Turkey Vultures were none too pleased at being ousted from their strutting grounds by the anchorage
We had traditional music as well as a Chinese Pan Band. There was a scribe writing pretty signs to order.
There were many dishes to choose from, Bear's lunch of prawns he described as "Cheeky". Dragons taking a rest.
ALL IN ALL A REALLY GOOD FIRST DAY OUT BACK IN TRINIDAD
TRINI FUN WITH AN ORIENTAL FEEL