Summer Recap - Dragon Boat Festival

>> Tuesday, September 21, 2010

In mid-July, we went to the Dragon Boat Festival. Every year, this family-friendly festival celebrates Colorado's Asian Pacific American heritage. It's a 2-day festival that showcases traditional performing arts, cultural customs, cuisine, and a marketplace of unique arts and crafts. The highlight of the festival is the action-packed dragon boat racing across the lake.

Nani with part of the group that performed the "Awakening" ceremony

Dragon Boat Racing is an international sport that originated in ancient China. The sport is over 2,000 years old and is steeped in tradition. According to legend, Chu Yuan, a poet, warrior, and loyal aid to the Emperor, fell victim to plots and deception, and fell out of favor with the Court. When the old Emperor died, Chu Yuan was unjustly banished and wandered the countryside writing poems he hoped would be heard and heeded by the new Emperor. Despondent, he finally threw himself into a river. His devoted followers, learning of his death, beat their paddles on the water and banged drums and gongs to frighten away the fish from Chu Yuan’s body. In Yuan’s honor, athletes the world over still meet to commemorate his sacrifice for honor and justice.

Before the races begin, the dragons on the boats have to be "awakened". A tradition since the first Colorado Dragon Boat Festival, the Awakening the Dragon Opening Ceremony is a beautiful and spiritual ritual. Buddhist monks and other temple members chant as dignitaries carefully “dot the eyes” of the racing boats to awaken the spirit of the dragons, and to bless the athletes. Then a 75-foot dragon comes to life for a colorful dragon dance.

Waiting for the races to start

This was our first year going to the Festival, so there were a few things we learned and will keep in mind for going next year - like bringing a blanket and staking out a spot on the lake to watch the races. This way we could still walk around and grab some lunch and then come back and watch the races while eating.

Overall, it was a really nice way to spend an afternoon!


Julia September 22, 2010 at 5:32 AM  

That is so interesting and looks like a fun way to spend the day!

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