Each year near the end of August, companies from around Örnsköldsvik gather to compete in a rowing competition. Not just simple boats, but Dragon Boats. Some see it as pure fun, others prepare for months in advance to get as high as possible in the competition.
The first two pictures show what is supposed to happen: two or three boats, their crew sometimes dressed up for the occasion, row as fast as they can on a strip of water in the harbor, about 250 m. long. The winners go on to the next round, then there are semi-finals and finals and so on. The second row of pictures shows what is not supposed to happen.
The tradition originated in ancient China, where the poet Qu Yuan was writing about his love for the people. He was considered an honest man, highly appreciated and loved by the people. The corrupt government however couldn't cope with his righteousness, and accused and expelled him for corruption. He spent years wandering around the edges of the empire, still writing his poetry. He wasn't able though to live on like this, and drowned himself in the river Mi Lo one day in 296 BC. The local fishermen saw it happen, and tried to rescue him but it was too late. To prevent the fish from eating of the poet's body they slammed the waters with their oars, and to honor him they put rice wrapped in silk in the water. From then on, on the 5th day of the 5th month, in his honor Dragon Boat races are held.
© Jim Bella 2002-2003