Modern Dragon Boat racing can trace its roots back to events that took place in China more than 2 400 years ago. It is derived from the amalgamation of two festivals: one to appease the "supreme beings" in Chinese culture, the dragons, at the beginning of the rainy season, and the other to honour the famous poet and honest government official Qu Yuan, who drowned himself after being removed from office over the false accusations of his jealous peers whom he frequently condemned for their corrupt ways.
One legend has it that when the local fishermen saw Qu Yuan throw himself into a lake with a heavy stone strapped to his chest, they raced after him in their boats, beating their drums to scare away the fish who may try to eat his body. Today, the dragons on the boats are merely for decoration, and the drums are beat to "scare" the paddlers into action, but the earnestness with which the racers attempt to reach their goal has remained unchanged.
(Jinyu Sheng, President of the Chinese Society of Nova Scotia, performs the ceremonial dotting of the dragon's eyes during the opening ceremonies at the 2010 Manulife Dragon Boat Festival.)
The Dragon Boat Festival at Lake Banook in Dartmouth, is organized by, and acts as a fund raiser for Sport Nova Scotia. This year Manulife Financial resumed its title sponsorship of the event and its volunteers, as part of that company's nation-wide commitment to volunteerism.
(Competitors prepare to enter their boat.)
The weather on this day was rather overcast, with scattered showers throughout the late morning. Ironically, in the thirteen years this Festival, that traditionally marks the beginning of the rainy season, has been run in Dartmouth this is the first time it has actually rained.
(I misread the schedule and ended up taking a walk around the lake during the Chinese culture, dance, and kung-fu demonstration. When I came back a Korean taekwondo demonstration was being performed for reasons I have yet to ascertain.)
(The exciting finals of the 2010 Manulife Dragon Boat Festival, with the Dragon Beasts Blue team, in lane 3, just edging out the Tanner Family to take the title.)