Origin of The Colourful Chinese Dragon Boat Festival and Why its Celebrated

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Dragon Boat Festival, also called Duanwu or Tuen Ng Festival, is a traditional holiday observed annually over 2,000 years in China to commemorate Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), an ancient Chinese patriotic poet.

Falling on the 5th day of the 5th month according to Chinese lunar calendar, the Dragon Boat Festival, also known as Duanwu Festival, is one of great significance.

It has been held annually for more than 2,000 years and is notable for its educational influence.

The festival commemorates the patriotic poet Qu Yuan (340-278 BC), and also acts as a chance for Chinese people to build their bodies and dispel diseases. Many legends circulate around the festival but the most popular is the legend of Qu Yuan.

In the Warring States Period (475-221BC), the State of Qin in the west was bent on annexing the other states, including the state of Chu, home of great poet Qu Yuan.

Holding the second highest office in the state, Qu Yuan urged that the Chu State should resist Qin and ally with the State of Qi to the east.

This was opposed by Zhang Yi, a minister of the State of Qin who was trying to disrupt any anti-Qin alliances.

He seized upon an incident with a jealous court official in Chu to get rid of Qu Yuan. They made up a rumor that Qu Yuan was leaking state secrets and suborned the King of Chu to banish Qu Yuan from the capital in 313 BC.

Neither Qu Yuan’s hope of reforming corrupt institutes nor his resolve to resist Qin set well with the King of Chu.

Grieving for the condition of his homeland, for years Qu Yuan wandered about south of the Yangtze River.

He poured out his feelings of grief and concern for his homeland in the allegorical Li Sao, a long autobiographical poem in which he tells of his political ideal and the corruption and mismanagement of the court.

In 280 BC Qin launched an overall invasion of Chu, and captured the Chu capital in 278 BC. The news reached Qu Yuan while he was near the Miluo River in today’s northeastern Hunan Province.

In frustration at being unable to do anything to save his state, he clasped a big stone to his breast and leaped into the river to end his life.



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