March 2, 2024, Saturday
Nepal 1:37:26 pm

Dragon Boat Festival in Pokhara

New dimensions on Nepal-China friendship

The Nepal Weekly
June 27, 2023

Phewa Lake is a very famous as a scenic spot and tourist destination located in Kaski District, Gandaki Province of Nepal. Located in the Pokhara Valley, this lake is popular among internal and external tourists. The lake has a panoramic view of Machhapuchhre and Annapurna Himal. The lake also offers majestic reflections of Machhapuchhre and Annapurna Himal on its surface. These scenes bring joy to everyone’s mind. The view of the sunrise and sunset is also very stunning and makes the mind happy.

A Dragon Boat Festival in Phewa Lake was organised recently. The lake was decorated with eight dragon boat teams who competed fiercely against each other during the first Nepal-China dragon boat race festival. On the day, Mt. Machhapuchhre, was clearly visible along with the Annapurna range, adding colour to the boat racing.

Each of the eight teams comprised one drummer, one cox and 10 rowers, and among the eight teams were four Nepali teams, two Chinese teams, one team from Singapore and one team involving both Nepali and Chinese nationals.

The rowers, to the rhythm of the drum beats and braving the scorching sun, rowed hard their dragon-shaped boats to the finish lines in unison, sparking waves now and then. The spectators, either on the bank or in the boats, waved Nepali and Chinese national flags to cheer for their favourite teams.

On the first day of the competition, preliminary rounds were held for 200m and 500m races, and the semi-finals and final shall be conducted the following day.

Prior to the boat racing, a Sichuan Airlines charter flight arrived at the Pokhara International Airport on last Wednesday, becoming the first international flight to land at the third international airport of Nepal since its inauguration in January.

And as the sister city of Pokhara, Nepal’s second-largest city and a popular tourist attraction, Linzhi in China’s Tibet Autonomous Region sent artists to hold special performances to mark the dragon boat race festival.

Addressing the opening ceremony of the boat racing, Nepal’s Minister for Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation Sudan Kirati conveyed best wishes on behalf of Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

“It has become an inexhaustible driving force for us to create a better future,” Chen said at the opening ceremony, adding that the boat racing is held to implement the Global Civilization Initiative, promote Nepal’s tourism and the awareness of Pokhara in China and the world.

The Dragon Boat Festival, also known as “DuanwuJie” in Chinese, is one of the four important traditional festivals in China. It observes on the fifth day of the fifth month by the Chinese lunar calendar, which falls on 22nd June in 2023.

The legend behind the Dragon Boat Festival is associated with Qu Yuan (340- DRAGON BOAT FESTIVAL 278 BC), a loyal state minister and patriotic poet who lived in the kingdom of Chu during the Warring States period (475-221 BC).

Qu Yuan was deeply concerned about the political corruption and internal strife that plagued his country. As his warnings went unheeded, he composed powerful poems expressing his love and sorrow for his country. ‘When he realized his beloved country was beyond recovery and he could no longer save it, Qu Yuan committed suicide in despair by drowning himself in the Miluo River, which is located in today’s Hunan Province.

The local people, who admired Qu Yuan and were devastated by his death, rushed out in boats to search for his body. To prevent fish and evil spirits from devouring Qu Yuan’s body, people beat drums and splashed the water with paddles to scare them away, and also threw sticky rice wrapped in bamboo leaves, known as “Zongzi” into the river. These practices eventually evolved into the tradition of the Dragon Boat Race and the consumption of “Zongzi” during the Dragon Boat Festival nowadays.

Dragon Boat Race involves teams of rowers paddling in long, narrow boats shaped like dragons. The races are usually held in rivers, lakes, and other bodies of water, with participants striving to paddle their boats to the finish line in the shortest possible time. It promotes teamwork and physical fitness, Dragon Boat Race has gained popularity in China and is now enjoyed by people in many countries around the world. The Dragon Boat Race has been a cultural exchange and community engagement.