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Qu Yuan's hometown commemorates 'Patriot poet'


06-10-2016 00:08 BJT

Full coverage: Dragon Boat Festival

As mentioned earlier, the Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of Chinese poet Qu Yuan. Well today holds even more significance in his hometown -- Zigui County in Hubei Province, where the celebrations are fitting of a legendary Chinese figure.

Qu Yuan

Qu Yuan's hometown commemorates 'Patriot poet'

Accompanied by ancient tunes, people in Zigui County hold a special ceremony to commemorate Qu Yuan. He was minister of the State of Chu and one of China’s earliest known poets. Continually slandered by politicians, he was exiled by the king.

Without Qu’s guidance, the state was soon invaded. Upon hearing the news, Qu Yuan threw himself into the Miluo River on the 5th day of the fifth month in the Chinese lunar calendar.

Legend states that people living near the river used their boats to try to save him. They also wrapped rice in bamboo leaves and threw them into the water to prevent fish from eating his body.

These two traditions remain central to the festival to this day.

"The ceremony to commemorate Qu Yuan has been passed down for many generations, and as descendants of Qu Yuan, we want to keep the tradition going," said Qu Jiamin, descendant of Qu Yuan.

Eating sticky rice dumplings, known as zongzi is a staple of the Dragon Boat Festival. But the recipes and styles vary across regions.

Here in Zigui, Zongzi with red dates wrapped into a triangle and steamed corn cakes are most popular.

"I'm from Taiwan but my grandparents are from Zigui so I always come here during the festival and buy the steamed corn cake. It's a reminder of where I came from."
The festival also marks a changing of the seasons a time when insects begin to breed, which means diseases can be easily spread.

People would traditionally hang mugwort above their doors to repel pests and evil spirits.

Children would carry a perfume pouch with dried mugwort and other herbs inside to ward off evil spirits.

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