Bring In The Dragons!

Bring In The Dragons!

Bring In The Dragons!
Chinese dragons traditionally symbolize potent and auspicious powers, particularly control over water, rainfall, hurricane, and floods. The dragon is also a symbol of power, strength, and good luck. With this, the Emperor of China usually used the dragon as a symbol of his imperial power and strength.
望子成龍 meaning “hoping one’s son will become a dragon” is every Chinese parent’s wish.

Bring In The Dragons!2©BondingTool

The Dragon Festival commonly known as Duanwu Jie 端午节 occurs on the 5th day of the 5th month of the lunisolar Chinese calendar. The date varies from year to year on the Gregorian calendar. This year, it falls on 12th June 2013, Wednesday. The focus of the celebrations includes eating Rice Dumplings or as we locals called Bak Chang (aka Zongzi 粽子), drinking realgar wine Xionghuangjiu (雄黃酒), and the racing of Dragon Boats – a rather big event organised and participated by local corporations and MNCs in Singapore.

Bring In The Dragons!©BondingTool

During this time, the sun is considered to be at its strongest around the time of summer solstice (“mid-summer” in traditional East Asia, but “beginning” of summer elsewhere) when the daylight in the northern hemisphere is the longest. The sun, like the Chinese Dragon, traditionally represents masculine energy, whereas the moon, like the phoenix, traditionally represents feminine energy. The summer solstice is considered the peak annual moment of male energy (yang) while the winter solstice, the longest night of the year, represents the peak annual moment of feminine energy (yin). The masculine symbolism of the dragon is thus naturally associated with this ocassion.

Duanwu Jie 端午节 is believed to have originated in ancient China. A number of theories exist about its origins but the best known of the traditional myths relates to the suicide of Qu Yuan (c.340–278 BCE), poet and statesman of the Chu kingdom during the Warring States Period of the Zhou Dynasty. A descendant of the Chu royal house, Qu Yuan served in high offices. However, when the king decided to ally with the increasingly powerful state of Qin, Qu Yuan was banished for opposing the alliance and was accused of treason. During his exile, Qu Yuan wrote a great deal of poetry for which he is now remembered. 28 years later, Qin captured Ying, the capital of Chu. In despair, Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in the Miluo River on the 5th day of the 5th lunar month.

When the local people heard of his death, those who admired him quickly paddled out by boat (the origin of dragon boat racing) either to scare away the fish and/or to retrieve his body. They also dropped sticky rice triangles wrapped in bamboo leaves into the river hoping that the fish would not eat Qu Yuan’s body but the rice instead (the origin of Rice Dumplings or Zongzi 粽子).

In Singapore, Chinese Dumpling Festival as we sometimes it, the rice dumpling is a delicacy with many expensive ingredients packed into it as filling and can cost a lot of money as much as S$38 per dumpling depending on size and ingredients used. On normal days, a standard dumpling cost less than 10%.

This year, I was able to participate in Man Fut Tong Welfare Society’s Volunteers for Dumpling Festival 2013 program; a 3-day event with the aim of making 10,000 vegetarian rice dumplings for 45 Old Folks Homes.

Please click on the first photo for sequential viewing of the event (no commentary).

Tales of Shrooms:

Real Prep Work for Mock Ingredients (Vegetarian Dumplings):

Let The Water Boil:

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank ALL the voluntary participants in the project.


Future Dragons: Lim Jiaying, Tham You Wai, Xinhui and Wu Boo aged 17 to 18 years old are from Nanyang Junior College. There were 6 classmates altogether who participated today.
They would return on Sunday to help with the packing of dumplings for distribution.

Lim Jiaying, Tham You Wai, Sam (me) and Xinhui.

Lim Jiaying, Tham You Wai , myself and Xinhui. Thanks Tyng for taking this memorable picture of us.

This was a 3-day event (7th-9th June 2013). I like to share more photos of these unsung heroes. So look out for tomorrow’s post!

Happy volunteering 🙂

Information of Duanwu Jie credit: Wikipedia and various sources online.
Photos credit: Paul Koh
Paul’s my close friend whom I’ve known for at least 15 years. He brought me to eat Singapore’s Street Food when I first got back from Melbourne. He encouraged me when he learnt I’m interested in photography. He set me up in photography groups and we even went to Genting Highlands for photoshoot of  Tomato and Strawberry farms. Paul’s into charity big time locally and around the region, hands on too! 🙂

7 Responses to “Bring In The Dragons!”
  1. Janet Rörschåch says:

    Fantastic Sam. What a treat for you too. There is something wonderful about festivals, doesn’t matter where you are in the world. They are spectacular to behold and be a part of. Lovely. Lovely.

    • Sam Han says:

      Oh yes Janet, festivity moods are heightened when we get involved. It was a lovely weekend indeed. I have been resting since Sunday night till now, too tired, haha 🙂

  2. drunk ninja says:

    our dboat festival is in 2 weeks, just had our regatta for seeding over the past weekend. I used to call and it was exciting as heck when you’re neck to neck!

  3. daniellajoe says:

    I love reading about history very nice post!! Those rice dumplings should be delicious 🙂

    • Sam Han says:

      So glad you enjoyed the history nuggets, Pat. I would think the dumplings to be delicious as I could see the “chefs” guiding the “cooks” as to the amount needed for each batch cooked. A lot of team work from all the various departments making it a success! Unfortunately I did not get to taste a morsel, haha… 🙂

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