Sunday, June 8, 2008

Annual Dragon Boat Festival

Last weekend we went with our friends, Tim and Lei, to the local Dragon Boat Festival. This festival is celebrated all over south-east Asia and to a lesser extent all over the world. To us it seemed to be all about eating great snacks and watching the dragon boat races. But in an article published recently in the China Post (an English-language newspaper) some knowledgeable person explained that this festival had originally been created as a vehicle for public health education about certain health issues arising at the beginning of the warmer seasons. I personally think it's really interesting to learn about the functional meaning behind cultural practices like this that are otherwise remain veiled behind a mysterious wall of alien-culture-ness. What I mean is that for somebody witnessing the rituals or traditional practices of another culture that we don't understand, the functional meaning of the activity grounds the practice in a reality that we do understand and this has the effect of making the whole thing appear so much less superstitious and more sensible.

Anyway, here's the link for that article:
China Post article - meaning of Dragon Boat Festival

I have to apologise here to the author of the Alimu blog on Blogger. I copied an image from their blog because all the photos I took of the Dragon Boats were worthless swirls and blurs of colour on black backgrounds. I still can't take a good night shot with my camera.

Alright! The best part of the Dragon Boat Festival? Ice-creams, Chinese sausages, shaved ice with almond milk and red beans, fruit shakes, sweet-spicy fried sweet-potato wedges, so many things on sticks. A plethora of snacks and drinks, a cornucopia of gustatory delights, thy cup runneth over with good things to eat and drink. Drink and be merry my friends for tomorrow we may wake up with severe gastrointestinal trouble.

Now, I can proudly say that THIS shot WAS taken with my camera. Well, I didn't take the photo but it was taken by the person closest to me so that must count for something. You can see Lei's head, half of Tim's head, the top bit of Andrea, and the top bit of me. You can also see in the canal one of the boats used in managing the other boats in the canal during the festival. I wonder if they got a bucket of almond milk shaved ice?

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