Dragon boat festivals

By | Category: Travel tips & opinions

TaiwanOne of the most significant festivals in Taiwan’s events calendar, the annual Dragon Boat Festival, is celebrating its 35th year in 2014. Taking place annually on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in the small, historic town of Lukang, the festival aims to drive off evil spirits and encourage a peaceful and prosperous year. This year’s event takes place on June 2, however celebrations start throughout the country as early as April 26, just two days away.

The festival originates from an event which purportedly took place in ancient years when national poet, Qu Yan, decided to drown himself in the Miluo River to protest against the cruel government. People tried to rescue him by rowing down the river by boat and this search became the basis for the Dragon Boat Race.

Today, the Dragon Boat races are a key event with huge crowds gathering to watch the excitement. Teams compete to the sound of beating drums and rowers win by grabbing the flag at the end of the course.  Prior to the race, local people appeal to the Dragon King deity of Longshan Temple and the Water Immortal Deity of Tianhou Temple for protection and sustenance.

Many traditional customs accompany the festivities such as the drinking of Hsiung Huang wine and children are given fragrant sachets, both of which are thought to ward off evil spirits. A culinary highlight of the festival is eating the traditional dish Zongzi which is glutinous rice dumplings wrapped in bamboo leaves. It is said that the origins of this dish trace back to the story of Qu Yan when the local people who admired him dropped sticky rice triangles into the river for the fish to eat, perhaps to dissuade them from eating Q Yan!

To repeat, althogh the festival begins in two days, the main events are in June; plenty of time to book an early Summer holiday in Taiwan.

For more information about Taiwan, click here.

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