The Sport of Dragon Boating
The origin of Dragon Boat Racing can be traced to events that took place in southern China over 2,000 years ago.
Dragon boat racing, within the context of a festival, became much more important in Chinese culture with the tragic events surrounding Qu Yuan (pronounced Chu Yuan) around 277 B.C. Qu Yuan was a statesman and poet in the feudal kingdom and as a man of wisdom and integrity, he provided truthful advice to the King. This advice angered his political rivals and as a result, they persuaded the King to banish him. Despondent over his exile and the subsequent decline of the government, Qu put stones in his pocket and drowned himself in the Mi Lo River. When local fishermen raced out to rescue him, they beat their drums and splashed with their paddles to scare the fish and water dragons away from Qu Yuan's body.
To commemorate their beloved Qu Yuan, the people of southern China staged Dragon Boat races to remember the day when they raced into the river in an attempt to save him. From this point on, Dragon Boat races became an annual event. Preceding the actual races, some festivals still practice the ancient ritual of "Awakening the Dragon." An eye-dotting ceremony awakens the dragon and brings out its fire, which gives the boats and their crews the strength of the dragon.
Click here to view the Dragon Boating Wikipedia article for more information.