Chinese wrap up glutinous rice, cherish traditions on Duanwu Festival

10:32, June 05, 2011      

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A man teaches a child to wrap a zongzi (rice dumplings) in Haiyou, capital of south China's Hainan Province, June 4, 2011. As the Duanwu Festival draws near, handmade Zongzi, a kind of traditional food for the festival, became more and more popular. The Duanwu Festival, also known as Dragon Boat Festival, falls on June 6 this year. (Xinhua/Guo Cheng)

As the Duanwu (Dragon Boat) Festival is to fall on Monday, Chinese housewives spent Saturday wrapping up glutinous rice with reed leaves or buying red-made rice balls at restaurants and supermarkets.

Today the rice ball is an indispensable dish on the Chinese dinner table on the Duanwu Festival. Traditionally, however, it should be thrown into rivers to spare from the fish's mouths the body of a poet who drowned more than 2,000 years ago.

The poet, named Qu Yuan, lived in the state of Chu during the Warring States period (475 BC to 221 BC). He drowned himself in the Miluo River in the central Hunan Province in 278 BC, hoping his death would awaken the king to revitalize their kingdom.

The date of Qu Yuan's death, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, has since been remembered as the Dragon Boat, or Duanwu, Festival. On that date, fishermen row dragon boats along the Miluo river to search for Qu Yuan and scatter glutinous rice balls in the water to prevent the fish and shrimps from eating his body.

The festival is celebrated throughout the country, featuring dragon boat races, rice ball cooking competitions, traditional art shows and herb harvesting to keep fit.

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