Guizhou – Sister’s Meals Festival

 

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A few months ago I started following a Blog called, “Enjoying Life… don’t quit.” I am not sure how I came across it, but the blogger had posted some fantastic photos of birds. They were amazing and as I looked at some of her other work, I was hooked. So, now I look forward to seeing “what” photos she will post next.

Well, this week she posted some really beautiful photos from the Guizhou – Sister’s Meals Festival in China. Due to copyright rules, I did not take this photo from her website, but it gives you an idea of the type of photos she has posted this week. I encourage you to click here, and see her pictures of the festival.

This is something I would love to see, so I did a search to find out more about this Chinese village and the significance of the festival. The China Highlights website describes the festival and has an itinerary for a tour you could take. They say that the Sister’s Meals Festival is known as the Oriental Valentine’s Day.

This festival allows Miao (Hmong) youth to possibly find their marriage partners through rice. Disclaimer: The photo I have is of young children. You need to click on site above to see the photos of the older “mature ladies” who participate in this exchange of rice ceremony. I didn’t want to mislead you with the photo I have.

Back to the rice exchange…  The ladies come out in traditional costumes wearing their elaborate silver jewelry. The Miao believe that silver dispels evil spirits. At the dance party, the young men present a parcel of rice to the lady they are interested in. In return, the lady gives the young man a parcel of rice, which gives him her answer. When the young man opens his package if he finds 2 chopsticks, it’s an acceptance. If the man finds 1 chopstick it is a refusal and if he finds a chili that is a definite, “No.”  There are other activities at the festival like dragon boat racing, bull fights, wooden drum dance, etc.

So glad I opened this lady’s post this week. I want to learn more about the “Guizhou Ethnic Minorities Festival Tour.” In fact, see China Discovery, if you are interested in more information as well. The world is full of traditions and special customs. Let’s keep sharing!

My First Race – Dragon Boat Racing

IMG_3594I heard a team captain say they were “short” one woman to be able to form a team for the Dragon Boat races that were coming up, so I shyly raised my hand.  DONE – I was part of the team!

Our day started at 5 AM on Saturday. We had to drive to the location, set up and prepare for the day’s events. A group got there before us and set up our tents. We all brought food for a pot luck and stored our bags, paddle, etc.  FYI: Never forget your towel and change of clothes. You do get wet, it’s fun, but not if you can’t change your clothes on a cold day.

IMG_3601When we practice we do not have a dragon head on our boat, so I was curious to see how this would look.  I didn’t realize that there is a real drum on the boat too. For those of you who do not know much about dragon boat racing I’ll fill you in. There are 20 paddlers to a boat. The first two paddlers at the front of the boat are called, “the strokes,” they set the pace for the boat.

The drummer uses the drum to set the pace of the strokes, so this person must have a loud voice for all of us to hear. When we are paddling it’s easy to get distracted by the boats next to us and their drum beats. I also learned that you lose time if you look up to see “how” you are doing in the race, best to stay focused and give your strokes ALL you’ve got. Finally, there is the steerperson at the back of the boat, who steers the boat and also gives IMG_3609commands to the paddlers. Here is a glossary of Dragon Boat terms.

We raced about 500 meters in 2.5 minutes. There were four boats racing at once and it took a little time to get us ALL lined up. I know 2.5 minutes might not seem long, but imagine how you feel when you are doing “planks” at the gym. You start out strong and then your arms get tired and it takes everything you’ve got to keep in the plank position. Same with paddling, you force yourself to continue paddling through the pain and finish STRONG. That’s where the drum beat comes in, it keeps the team focused.

BAD NEWS – We didn’t win!

GOOD NEWS – We had a lot of fun, we worked as a team and after our 3rd time out, we improved our time, and we finished STRONG!  It was a great day!   GO TRY IT!