Legend of Dragon Boat Festival
The Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional Chinese festival. It has a history of more than 2,000 years, and is believed to have originated during the Warring States period. Meanwhile, having rice dumpling during Dragon Boat Festival has become Chinese’s culture remained since the past.
Whereas, some of us might not know precisely about the origin stories behind the Dragon Boat Festival. Among all the legends, Commemorating Qu Yuan is the most widely being circulated. Let’s see how well do you know about this legend.
Legend about Commemorating Qu Yuan
This legend starts from a patriotic poet and a loyal official of the state of Chu during the Warring States Period named Qu Yuan.
Qu Yuan was born in a ruling family and served in high offices. He was the number one advisor of the Kingdom of Chu, and dedicated his whole life to assisting the king to build the State of Chu stronger.
He advised the King to ally with the State of Qi (one of the seven warring states: Qi, Chu, Yan, Han, Zhao, Wei, and Qin) to fight against the most powerful State of Qin. However, he was slandered by jealous officials and accused of treason, and the King dismissed and exiled him.
During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of enduring poems showing his love and passion for his country, some of which are still very famous in China.
In 278 BC, the Qin State conquered the capital of Chu. On hearing of the defeat, Qu Yuan in great despair committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.
The rest is legend… When they heard of Qu Yuan's death, the local people were very sad, and rowed out on the river to search for his body, but were unable to find him. To preserve his body, the locals paddled their boats up and down the river, hitting the water with their paddles and beating drums to scare evil spirits away. They threw lumps of rice into the river to feed the fish, so that they would not eat Qu Yuan's body.
The lumps of rice which they threw into the river to feed the fish is the sticky rice dumplings we are having today every Dragon Boat Festival. Nowadays, you can find different kind of sticky dumpling rice in market such as Cantonese style, Hokkien style, Teochew style and so on.
Photo credit to Muar Yuen Chen Siang
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