Penang Dragon Boat Race Festival


About 100 years back, sizable clans of sea-faring migrants from China worked out along the
foreshores of Penang isle, developing boat dock houses on the edges of George Town.

Many of these simple coastal plank settlements, like the aged Bang Liaw jetty in Weld Quay, still exist till today, housing scores of fisher-folk families exactly as they did many
decades before.

During the early duration, yearly on the 5th day of the 5th moon of the lunar calendar, the settlers would drive out to sea lengthy specifically developed boats for an enthusiastic day of racing. It was just one of the terrific traditions they had happily brought along from China.

Little might these neighborhoods, actually living on the margins of George Town, have understood then that the race they were so avidly commemorating amongst themselves would certainly someday turneded into one of the most significant sea occasions of the region.

In reality, when the grand Dragon Boat Race celebration was officially organised in Penang, it was the first time that the race had actually previously been held outside the coasts of China.

Local authorities here recognized the Dragon Boat race as a sporting task at some point around 1934. It proved to be so preferred that the race was formally held for the initial time to celebrate the George Town Municipal Council’s 100th anniversary in 1956.

10 years later, the Dragon Boat Race was arranged again and made a regular attribute in the annual Pesta Pulau Pinang events.

Today, the race, held on an international range, is so prominent that it draws hundreds of individuals from around the globe.

Groups from distant areas like China, Macau, Japan, Singapore, Australia, Indonesia, the United States, Norway, Germany and New Zealand converge in Penang as component of a year-long world race circuit under the patronages of the International Dragon Boat Federation headquartered in Beijing.

penang dragon boat festival

The fantastic race is now composed a lush setting incomparable the world over for its distinct lake atmosphere.

Surrounded by environment-friendly hills and old rainforest, the big peaceful Teluk Bahang dam on the silent north-western edge of Penang isle, shatters into a frenzy as tens of thousand of sportsmens and viewers come down to participate in the colours and rolls of the magnificent contest.

The Dragon Boat Race Festival has actually moved several places since 1979 when the international festival was released– it has actually been held at the picturesque Gurney Drive and the Mengkuang Dam. The current landscape in Teluk Bahang, amidst verdant tropical landscapes, would undoubtedly make the Chinese emperors of aged proud.

The race holds a legendary practice that stretches back some 2,600 years.

According to historic record, Chu Yuan, a minister in the Imperial Courts famed for his righteousness, was dismissed since he opposed the weighty policies of the master.

In a terrible act of sorrow, Chu Yuan drowned himself in a stream. It is said that villagers and residents competed their watercrafts to save the renowned philosopher, yet to no avail.

One more tale has it that teams of watercrafts were sent out to spread out glutinous rice on the river for fish to supply on so they would not gorge the remains of the dead Chu Yuan.

The accident is claimed to have actually occurred in the 4th century BC. Ever since, the Chinese have noted the day by competing on boats, each bearing the masthead of a serpent-like dragon.

Chu Kok An, a veteran of Penang’s boating scene, discusses that the image of the dragon is extremely significant. Not just is it symbolic in bringing good fortune and success along with in frightening fiends. The image births historic proof of a splendid legacy that has actually endured lots of years.


penang dragon boatThere are various other symbolic elements too. Each boat carries a drummer at the front whose reverberating beats all the oarsmen follow while pushing the watercraft with a durable sense of timing and synchrony.

“The whippings of the drums are really symbolic,” Chu claims. “Traditionally the drum is placed in the center of the watercraft, while at the front are items of supplying like glucose walking stick and oranges.”.

It is a definitely amazing display to look at, also from afar, rows of oars relocating best unison to the thumping of drums, as the slim watercrafts move over large surges on the lake, like quiet darts.

“The appeal of the Dragon Boat race is the team effort. In soccer, we have just 11 gamers. In the Dragon Boat, we may use 26!” Chu points out. Training is crucial for the oarsmen. Chu explains that there are various paddling strategies – short movements and long.

“In the long strokes, there is additional power in rowing, while in the small there is more performance,” he claims. “It now appears like there is a transfer to favor long-strokes. Some of the teams that have recently gained mugs in Cape Town and Sydney had made use of the long-strokes.”.

There are seven categories of races in the Penang celebration, some featuring either men or ladies, others with combined gamers. Some require usage of big watercraft assessing concerning 12m, others needing little boats of only regarding 6.5 m in length.

Most categories cover a lap of 500m, however the primary race includes an interesting round of 1,000 m.

Indeed, the race is verily a brilliant exhibition radiant exhibit, speed and endurance. “The Dragon Boat Race has actually genuinely come to be a sport, especially in the western globe.

In spite of the unavoidable international commercialisation, the Dragon Boat race is still, till today, held with deep respect in lots of components of China in the spirit of its ancient origins.

Like the brave stability of the legendary Chu Yuan, the spirit now lives on in Penang, to the pounding of the drums and the roaring of the throngs in the adventure and adulation of sheer human prowess.

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