The Dragons Are Racing

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“Never laugh at live dragons.” 
J.R.R. Tolkien

DragonBoat

Today, the colourful Dragonboats raced across False Creek, Vancouver, to the unrelenting sound of beating drums.  They are continuing a tradition that has roots dating back over 2000 years to ancient folk and religious rituals of Chinese villagers.  Legend has it that the genesis of the Dragonboat Race was when Qu Yuan, a patriotic Chinese poet, during the Warring States period (476 – 221 BC) plunged into the Milou River to protest bureaucratic dishonesty.  The local citizens, who had great respect for Qu Yuan, paddled their boats out into the river where he had disappeared. For more than 20 centuries, China has had an annual dragon race, on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month which occurs in either late May or early June.The Race

In 1976, Hong Kong transformed the institution into an international sporting event. The Dragonboats, made of wood or fibreglass, weigh in at about 650 to 800 pounds.  They hold between 10 – 21 people, mostly paddlers, along with a steersman, a drummer, and a flag catcher.  They skim over the water with an elegance of the ancient Chinese dragon.

And what lesson can we draw from Volantene history? 
If you want to conquer the world, you best have dragons.”
George R.R. Martin, A Dance With Dragons

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24 thoughts on “The Dragons Are Racing

  1. Thank you, Rebecca. I forgot completely about the dragon boat festival. My sister asked me if I remember (it was last week, June 12). Unfortunately I forgot. Vancouver is more Chinese than SF! Thanks for this post.

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    • It is a wonderful event! I had to smile when the organizer was trying to get the boats to the starting point. It is difficult to keep all of them at the same point in the water. Everyone was having a good time. Those paddlers are in excellent physical condition. I was exhausted just watching them…=

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  2. I love both Tolkien and Martin, but I must admit that Dances with Dragons has been on my Kindle waiting until I re-read the others. Maybe that should be my summer reading goal 🙂

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    • My dear friend! I can only imagine your reading list of remarkable books. My lists seem to get longer and longer as the days progress. There are so many books to read and so little time. Right now I am in the middle of David McCullough’s “The Greater Journey” and then I found out how easy it was to download books onto a Kindle. I am simply in heaven with all of the possibilities. Now, if you could just tell me how to expand time… 🙂

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  3. What a fantastic event this must be! And as for the ever present lure of new books to read, well what a lovely problem to have! Not helped at all by your wonderful devilling out of fascinating characters, references, stories, quotes….!!!! 🙂

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    • So many books, poems, music….the joy of learning is forever! The Dragons are there to keep us on track!!! 🙂

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  4. What a wonderful day you have had. And so interesting that dragon boat racing has spread around the globe. Conquered it? 🙂

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    • I was thinking the same thing myself. It captures the imagination of all cultures. Perhaps it is the team camaraderie. You would be interested to know that there is a blessing ceremony at the official kick-off. This is to awaken the Dragons. I do like traditional rituals! This is from the Festival Website:

      “Ancient Chinese dragon mythology has it that the Dragon sleeps in the mountains and travels to the water when it is awakened. Guest dignitaries assist in this rite, dipping brushes in pots of red cinnabar paint and dabbing the eyes on the boats’ dragon heads.”

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      • What a lovely idea to have a blessing. There used to be a dragon boat crew in Christchurch who were all breast cancer patients and survivors. Not sure if it still exists but the camaraderie was very important to them.

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      • We have one here as well. It is call “ABreast in a Boat.” These are extraordinary women who bring enormous energy and courage to the dragonboat community. I am so glad to hear they are in your neighbourhood as well! 🙂

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  5. Would you believe there is a Dragon Boat festival near my town here in Mid-Michigan? For the past few years they’ve been having Dragon Boat races on the Grand River in downtown Lansing. A good friend of mine is one of the organizers. We watched some of the races last year. The kids got a big kick out of the boats and watching the races. A fun time.

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    • Dragonboat racing is a serious sport which requires a paddler to be in top physical shape! I marvel at their ability to work together as a team. There is no place for personal egos!!! I am so excited to hear that you have dragonboats in downtown Lansing! I agree – the kids love to watch them! They were out in full force yesterday. Funny how an idea can travel the globe…

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    • It was a great day of sunshine. Today, the rain is back so even the weather cooperated. What I love about walking the Vancouver Sea Wall is that there is dragonboats practicing year-round!! 🙂

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    • I agree! There was colour, laughter and the beating of drums. What a dramatic event! No wonder the whole world has embraced this sport.

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