The Dragon Boat Festival is one of the most celebrated traditional festivals in Singapore, which is usually held on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. It is an occasion that Singaporeans look forward to every year. The Dragon Boat Festival in Singapore is a colorful and exciting event that attracts locals and tourists alike. Make sure you book your bus tickets in advance to avoid any hassle.
Originally intended to honor river dragons, it has now evolved to commemorate the legendary People’s Poet, Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was a Chinese poet and minister who lived during the Warring States period.
According to the Gregorian calendar, the traditional Chinese holiday known as Dragon Boat Festival is celebrated in late May or June. The Dragon Boat Festival 2023 will fall on Thursday, June 22.
This festival is observed in the Chinese mainland and many other Asian countries and regions. The Dragon Boat Rice Dumpling Festival is also known as Bak Chang Festival in Taiwan, China, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore.
When Chinese relatives in Singapore begin making rice dumplings, you know it is time for the Dragon Boat Festival. Also, at this time, dragon boat racers compete in thrilling competitions on various rivers and waterways while drums are being pounded. Now, let’s look back at its origins and ceremonies.
Dragon Boat Festival Origins
Dragons are auspicious characters in Chinese mythology and culture; they represent strength, power, and fortune. In ancient times, they were thought to live in water bodies and influenced rivers, oceans, floods, the weather, and water, in general.
When rice seedlings are transplanted, the summer solstice usually falls on the fifth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar. During this season, the people of southern China perform rituals for the river dragons to ensure good weather and a plentiful harvest.
The Legend of Qu Yuan
One of the longest-running and famous mythologies linked with the Dragon Boat Festival is the legend of Qu Yuan, an incorruptible state minister who served during China’s Warring States period. During the Warring States period in China, Lord Huai had him as a valued advisor, but owing to political intrigue by rivals, he lost the king’s favour and was exiled. In desperation, he leapt into the Mi Luo River and drowned.
In one narrative version, the common folks are said to have thrown rice dumplings into the river to stop the fish and shrimp from consuming Qu Yuan’s body because of their immense love for him. Another tale talks of the fishermen thrashing their paddles to frighten the man-eating fish away.
In either case, the Duan Wu Jie celebrations always feature dragons and rice dumplings. The tales have blended nicely with the Han dynasty’s tradition of Chinese fishermen proposing dragon-shaped boats to worship river dragons; now, this has grown into a sport.
The Month of Poison
Many people think that the Dragon Boat Festival is held in remembrance of the passing of Qu Yuan, who later rose to fame as a national hero and was noted for his loyalty and classical poetry. However, Qu Yuan’s passing occurred after the Dragon Boat Festival existed.
The fifth lunar month, which the ancients called “the month of poison,” is connected with early history. People were more prone to becoming sick and diseases spread during the first hot days of summer. Because of this, people in the past believed that the month was evil and that keeping evil spirits and illnesses at bay was crucial. So, the first perception of the Dragon Boat Festival was as a traditional festival celebrating medication and well-being.
Dragon Boat Festival Traditional Activities
The Dragon Boat Festival carries a long-standing tradition in contemporary Singapore. Rice dumplings and dragon boat races, two of the festival’s most recognizable features, originate in a tale of politics and patriotism.
Savour the Rice Dumplings
Apart from the dragon boat races, the festival is also celebrated with the consumption of sticky rice dumplings, also known as zongzi, which are wrapped in bamboo leaves and filled with different ingredients such as pork, mushrooms, and chestnuts. These dumplings are a traditional food during the festival and are believed to have originated from the legend of Qu Yuan, who drowned himself in a river and had rice wrapped in leaves thrown into the water to prevent fish from eating his body.
You can make some homemade bak zhang with friends or family and have fun; perfecting the wrapping requires talent. Alternatively, you can also look into the top locations in Singapore to order and collect Dragon Boat Festival Rice Dumplings.
Watch the Dragon Boat Races
Every year in July, boat races take place in Singapore over two days. You can see Singapore’s dragon boat racers practising on the water. Today’s dragon boating is done in slender, brightly painted boats that resemble dragons. These are similar to the boats the fishermen used to sail dragon-shaped boats to placate the river spirits at the summer solstice. Today, the boaters do not race to rescue drowning ministers, but they still use a lot of strength, skill, and coordination while competing.
Beat the Drums
Many characteristics of the earlier races still exist today, such as the long, thin boats, the prows decorated with dragon heads, and the drums that provide tempo to the rowers. A joyous mood prevails in Singapore as competitors row vigorously, captains beat their drums, flags are waved, and spectators applaud their favourite teams. It is a powerful and exhilarating spectacle that combines ferocious action, tragic history, and passionate companionship.
Dragon Boat Festival Celebrations in Singapore
Singapore may be a destination for business meetings, shopping, and contemporary entertainment, but it still celebrates traditional events, like the Dragon Boat Festival 2023, that must be visited.
Tourists now travel from all around the world to see the rowing of dragon boats. In Singapore, the races are held every year at the Bedok Reservoir, the Kallang River, and the Gardens by the Bay Marina Channel. The colorfully decorated boats and the competitors’ enthusiasm are both captivating.
You might be interested in Gardens by the Bay
The festival activities include a spread of tasty Dragon Boat Festival foods and the races. A carnival-like atmosphere encompasses the whole event as spectators crowd the banks to support their favorite teams and taste the day’s special food item.
Visit Singapore during the Dragon Boat Festival 2023 to experience the magical ambiance. This vibrant festival is all about dragons, poets, and rice dumplings. With redBus, you can enjoy a comfortable and safe journey for Singapore’s vibrant Rice Dumpling Festival.
To visit Singapore during the Dragon Boat Festival 2023, visit the redBus app or website and make your bus ticket online. redBus provides various options for online bus booking, along with amazing deals and discounts, making it the most reliable online bus booking service in Singapore. So, what are you waiting for? Book your bus tickets online now!