....... Divertimento: Tuen Ng Festival 端午节 (端午節)

Friday, 3 June 2011

Tuen Ng Festival 端午节 (端午節)

Finally, Friday. And better yet, Monday’s a public holiday.

Tuen Ng Festival or Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated on the 5th day of the 5th month of the Lunar calendar. This year, it happens to fall on Monday June 6th. The festival originates from ancient China and there are a few versions of how it began. The most popular of these folklore attributes the festival to the death of a poet and statesman called Qu Yuan 屈原(340-278 BC). Qu Yuan was a descendant of the Chu noble house during the Warring States period of the Zhou dynasty. He opposed the alliance of the state of Chu with the neighboring state of Qin and was thus banished for treason. He is best remembered for the poetry which he wrote during his period of exile. He was in despair when the capital of the state of Chu was conquered by the Qin. Thus, he committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th month 278 BC. He was admired amongst the local people and folklore has it that the local people threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish and discourage them from eating Qu Yuan’s body. They also made a lot of noise at the river by beating drums to scare away the fish.

glutinous rice dumplings 粽子
In Hong Kong, the focus of the celebrations is eating glutinous rice dumplings 粽子 and dragon boat racing 划龙舟. Glutinous rice dumplings can be bought from most bakeries, yum cha restaurants, Chinese restaurants and some chaa chan teng 茶餐厅(廳).

Glutinous rice dumpling

It is also said that the festival predates Qu Yuan and is grounded in superstitions, beliefs and traditions. That is why some Chinese also hang fragrant sachets香包around children’s necks, hang calamus菖蒲 and moxa艾草 above their front doors, display portraits of Zhong Kui or other deities, imbibe in realgar wine 雄黄酒 (a strong yellow wine) as well as try to stand an egg at 12 noon. It is said that you will enjoy good luck during the coming year if you can make an egg stand up on its end during the Horse Hour (between 11 am to 1 pm) on Dragon Boat Day.

Dragon boat racing is very popular in Hong Kong and events will be held at:

5th June 2011 – Chai Wan Cargo Handling Basin

6th June 2011 – Stanley Main Beach, Aberdeen Promenade, Shing Mun River (Sha Tin), Sai Kung Town Waterfront, Castle Peak Bay Typhoon Shelter, Promenade at Tai Po Waterfront Park, Tai Pak Beach (Discovery Bay), Cheung Chau Typhoon Shelter and Tai O Sheltered Boat Anchorage (Lantau Island).

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