Dragon Boat Festival 2017

From left to right: Dr David Monyae, Co-Director, UJCI; Mrs Tang Deyan; Prof Yin Fulin, Co-Director, UJCI; Ms Ren Xiaoxia, Vice Consul General, Chinese Embassy; Mr Michael Sun, City of JOhannesburg MMC for Public Safety; and Ms Han Fang, Chairman of the Chinese Funding Association.

On 30 May 2017, UJCI held a Dragon Boat Festival at its premises in Auckland Park, Johannesburg.

The Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu Festival, is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. The Chinese Dragon Boat Festival is a significant holiday celebrated in China, and the one with the longest history. It is one of the most important Chinese festivals. The origin of this summer festival centers around a scholarly government official named Qu Yuan. He was a good and respected man, but because of the misdeeds of jealous rivals he eventually fell into disfavor in the emperor’s court. Unable to regain the respect of the emperor, in his sorrow Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River. Because of their admiration for Qu Yuan, the local people living adjacent to the Miluo River rushed into their boats to search for him while throwing rice into the waters to appease the river dragons. Although they were unable to find Qu Yuan, their efforts are still commemorated today during the Dragon Boat Festival.

The boat races during the Dragon Boat Festival are traditional customs to attempts to rescue the patriotic poet Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan drowned on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month in 277 B.C. Chinese citizens now throw bamboo leaves filled with cooked rice into the water. Therefore the fish could eat the rice rather than the hero poet. This later on turned into the custom of eating rice dumplings.

The celebration is a time for protection from evil and disease for the rest of the year. It is done so by different practices such as hanging healthy herbs on the front door, drinking nutritious concoctions, and displaying portraits of evil’s nemesis, Chung Kuei. If one manages to stand an egg on its end at exactly 12:00 noon, the following year will be a lucky one.