Thursday June 21, 2012
Dragon Boat race draws a larger participation in Malacca
By R.S.N. MURALI
Photo by A. Malex Yahya
MALACCA: To the local Chinese community, the annual Duanwu Festival which falls in the month of Jun is strongly connected to both its cultural and sports aspects.
This time of the year is also slotted for the famous Chinese glutinous rice known as kuih Chang.
The festival, also known to Malaccans as the Dragon Boat Festival is a traditional and statutory holiday originating in China that has eventually spread to the shores of Southeast Asia.
The festival occurs on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar on which the Chinese calendar is based.
The focus of the celebrations includes eating rice dumplings zongzi, drinking Chinese tea and racing dragon boats.
Malacca’s Dragon Boat Race Association president Wong Soo Tang said that the moon was considered to be at its strongest around the time of mid-Summer in Southeast Asia when the daylight in the northern hemisphere is the longest.
The sun, he said like the dragon, traditionally represents masculine energy, whereas the moon, like the phoenix symbolise feminine energy.
The summer solstice is considered the peak annual moment of male energy while the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, represents the peak annual moment of feminine energy.
The masculine image of the dragon is naturally associated with Duanwu where the dragon boat race is organised in Malacca annually in-conjunction of the celebration, he said.
However, over the years the dragon boat race has developed into a sporting event. This year, the event was held last Sunday with 43 teams consisting of 645 participants competed in a neck-to-neck race.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam who was guest of honour, praised the organising committee for successfully wooing teams from Indonesia and Singapore as well as from Selangor, Penang, Putrajaya and Johor.
“I am delighted and proud to see an enormous increase of teams participating in the race thus making the ongoing Malacca River Festival month a resounding success,” he said after opening the 29th Annual Dragon Boat Race held at the Melaka River mouth opposite Casa Del Rio Boutique Hotel.
Mohd Ali added that both cultural and sports activities can mix and in this way many non-Chinese can also participate in the event to showcase the involvement of the multi-racial facet in such a renowned race.
The race saw Multimedia University (MMU) sending in the most participants, a total of 120 involving ten boats while Maritime academy (ALAM) from Kuala Sungai Baru, here with 60 participants and four boats.
The other participants includes Team Pasir Gudang, Johor, Dragon Five Singapore, PDRM, Penang Forward, Penang Municipal Rower Club, Mimet Dolphin, Nuklear Malaysia, Padang Indonesia, Casa Del Rio Hotel and Putrajaya Dragon.
Other includes Wang Zi Melaka, Bukit Rambai, UTEM, Skrine Dragon (KL), Bar Council, Batang Tiga Timur, Batang Tiga Timur Express, Ali &Sons and Durian Tunggal Boys.
Mohd Ali later boarded one of the dragon boats to perform the throwing of some steamed kuih Chang into the river as a symbolic gesture of launching the Dragon Boat Festival before rowing in tandem with the race officials.