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Rowing dragon boats began as a ceremony for supplicating the God of Water to prevent disaster and bring fortune and later attached the rural custom of punting on the Milo River in search for Chu Yuan's body. With the melding of these traditions, dragon boat racing has today become the highlight of all the festivities held on Dragon Boat Festival.

Before a dragon boat may enter competition, it must first undergo a ceremony to "bring" it "to life." Local leaders officiate over the ceremony, held on the first day of the fifth lunar month, offering prayer to the Daffodil Noble King and the eyes of the dragon painted on the boat, to bring him. On the fifth day of the month, the boats are carried to the shore amidst the clamor of gongs and drums and a ceremony is held involving incense, prayers, and the lighting of fireworks. Finally, after thorough inspection, the boats enter the water for the competition.

When the race begins, all one can see is the rowers of each team driving their boats forward in unison to the beat of drums. The winning team is the one that first grabs the flag at the end of the river course and the difference between victory and defeat may be only a few fractions of a second. The energy and excitement of the race attracts thousands of spectators, who watch from the river bank cheering on their favorite team.

Unlike so many other traditions that are gradually falling victim to the march of time, dragon boat rowing has retained its vibrancy in modern society, becoming increasingly popular with each passing year both as a sport for physical training and as a favorite spectacle enjoyed by the whole family.

Source: MTC website

This part of Manila de Bay is a popular venue for dragon boat rowing. Last Saturday, a dragon boat rowing competition was held here.

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Additional Photos by Carol Villafuerte (carolskie007) Silver Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 18 W: 3 N: 61] (487)
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