Dragon Boat Festival Makes a Splash in Hong Kong

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Hong Kong’s annual Dragon Boat Festival made quite the splash.

It is held in honor of Chinese poet and politician Qu Yuan, who drowned himself 2,000 years ago, protesting what he called a corrupt government.

Seventy-one teams took part in the event’s 36 races. The dragon boats are built like war canoes and can fit up to 46 paddlers. Some take weeks, even months to prepare for the race, which only lasts 2-3 minutes.

"Our team has been training since March. We have been training twice a week, two evenings between 7 and 9 p.m. after work," coach Stephen Sin of Hop Wo Dragon team told APTN.

Win, lose or draw — at the end of the race, competitors splash each other using their paddles as a sign of blessings and good fortune. It's also a symbolic gesture to stop the fish from eating the great poet's remains.

Legend has it that villagers tried to save him, but were too late. They banged drums to protect him from evil spirits and threw rice into the river to keep the fish away from him.

Now the dragon boat races are celebrated worldwide — across Asia, Africa and New York.


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