Dragonboat Festival (端午節) took place last weekend, and I arrived in Taipei just in time to catch the festivities. This festival takes place beginning on 農曆五月五號, 5/5 on the Chinese lunar calendar. Thousands lined up at Dajia Riverside park to catch the races and enjoy a day out.
Dragonboat Festival is said to originate following the death of Chu royal house poet and minister Qu Yuan. Qu opposed the state’s alliance with the Qin dynasty and was banished from the state. 28 years later when the Qin Dynasty captured the Chu capital city, Qu drowned himself in a river. The locals raced out in dragon boats attempting to save him or retrieve his body.
Each race is a 500 meter sprint, and there were over 100 races on Saturday alone. Some were blow-out victories, while others were close and intense.
The diehard supporters waved flags as they clapped and sung their team to victory.
Several teams preparing to race practiced in-formation on the concrete.
Zongzi (粽子) are the traditional food eaten on Dragonboat Festival. Supposedly when Qu’s body could not be found in the river, the locals threw these in the water so that the fish would eat them instead of his body. Zongzi are glutinous rice dumplings with a meat/mushroom center, wrapped in bamboo leaves and steamed. Quite tasty.
The end of most races was the 500 meter finish line. In others, the victor was determined by who could reach the finish line and throw the colored flag into the air.
The victors marched back to their supporters as champions.
The best part of the day was watching the pandemonium that followed suit.