Fish traders soaked in wine to celebrate Dragon Feast

Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Issue 342, Page 3
Word count: 481
Published in: Macau Daily Times

By Poyi (Natalie) Leung

Every fresh food market in Macau yesterday received a procession which was made up of people drinking and spitting Chinese rice wine to celebrate the Feast of Drunken Dragon, a mostly-celebrated festival in Macau, Zhuhai and Zhongshan city of China.

The Macau General Association of Fresh Fish Trade has been organising the “Drunk Dragon Parade” for more than five decades, secretary-general Lei Io Man said, adding fresh fish traders from every local food markets will take part in the celebration and play “drunken dragon dancing”.

Mr Lei said the traditional feast, which takes place on the eighth day of the fourth month of the Chinese lunar calendar and coincides with the Buddha’s Birthday and the Feast of God Tam Kung, was originated in Qing Dynasty in mainland China where the villagers suffered from a incurable plague.

“The villagers then staged a parade carrying the Buddha statue wishing for blessings. But later a python appeared and blocked the procession’s way. A drunken monk then chopped the python into three pieces, danced, and threw them into the river,” Mr Lei told the Macau Daily Times.

“But the python’s blood changed the river into red and suddenly the python flew to the sky and the villagers believed it was actually a sacred dragon sent by the god,” he said.

The sea grass that was also turned red was later consumed by the sick villagers and afterwards their illness was gone abruptly, he added.

The parade began from Kuan Tai Temple near Senado Square where the “drunken dragon” received the eye-dotting ritual at 9am yesterday.

The procession then stopped at fresh food markets one by one for about an hour each, playing “drunken dragon dancing”, pouring strong Chinese wine in each other’s mouth and spitting it upwards reaching as far as they could.

Free lunch boxes were also given away at the Red Market in the morning and S. Domingos Food Market in the afternoon.

Named “longevity rice”, it is said that people after eating the rice will have a long life and be blessed for “having more offspring and wealth”.

According to Mr Lei, there was another legend for this tradition.

“Long time ago some fresh fish traders were having lunch in the S. Domingos Market and every time they would see some children waiting there for the leftover as they believed that the rice could give them good health,” he said.

And when time passed it changed to giving away lunch boxes during the feast, he added.

Last year, about 30,000 lunch boxes containing rice with vegetable or meat were distributed to the public, the secretary-general said.

Hundreds of spectaculars were sighted watching the performance or lining up for the “longevity rice” outside the fresh food markets including in Iao Hon, Holland Garden, Toi San and Patene.

The parade concluded at about 6pm when the “drunken dragon” returned to the S. Domingos Market.

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