The fifth day of the fifth moon of the lunar calendar is the day the Chinese celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival or Double Fifth Festival! The festival combines traditional elements of a religious occasion with the drama and glory of a sporting event. The event takes place every year in Hong Kong.
To unravel the strands of this unusual combination, we need to travel 2000 years back in time when Qu Yuan, Chinese statesman and poet flung himself into the Mi Lo River. Not because he felt suicidal but in protest against imperial corruption. His compatriots (naturally) were horrified and tried (in vain) to rescue their hero - they beat drums to scare away the fish, they fed the fish rice dumplings (more appetising than poor Qu Yuan) and furiously rowed their way towards him. We don't know if Qu Yuan's sacrifice moved the Emperor to mend his ways, but it certainly left a long-term impact on the Chinese people.
In our times, the Dragon boat Festival is one of three major Chinese festivals (Autumn Moon/ Chinese New Year/ Dragon Boat) and the unsuccessful rescue is commemorated with boat races, dumplings and drums! The highlight of the festival is, of course, the Dragon Boat race. Long slim boats with ornate dragon heads and tails are crewed by 20-22 paddlers to the beat of heavy drums. Drummers and paddlers crescendo simultaneously in an awesome build-up of passion and excitement.
For the Chinese, dragons are strong, powerful creatures, symbols of benevolence and protection, hence their exalted status. Dragon boat races symbolise the Chinese virtues of teamwork and cooperation - and bless the community with happiness and prosperity. And that is the moral of this story- the community that rows together, grows together!