|Dragon Boats 2012 - Eye-Dotting Ceremony|
International Dragon Boat Race Festival
Toronto, Ontario, May 31, 2012
The gongs have sounded and the dragon boats are awakened from their hibernation, soon after day break, six beautiful dragon boats, replete with ceremonial heads and tails, quietly descended on Sunnyside Beach, just south of Lake Shore Boulevard West. They were waiting patiently for that magic touch to be awakened to life in a very special ceremony.
Yesterday, close to a hundred people gathered on Sunnyside Beach to witness the eye-dotting ceremony “Hoi Gong”, meaning awakening of the dragon from his sleep. This rite must take place before the paddles hit the water and an ancient ritual was performed by Buddhist monk and nuns from Ching Kwok Buddhist Temple, awaking them and giving the dragon boats sight and blessing them with safety on the water. With the magic touch of a Chinese calligraphy brush on the dragon’s eyes, the dragon boats instantly come alive. This symbolizes the beginning of the dragon boat season in Toronto.
"The Tim Hortons Restaurant Owners of Toronto are proud to support the 24th Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival as title sponsors," said John Boughton, Tim Hortons restaurant owner. "Tim Hortons believes that being part of the community means more than just living in it. It means playing an active role to develop and contribute to the enjoyment of life within it. This festival continues to be one of the most exciting and popular summer events in Toronto and we are excited to support it again this year."
“At the 24th Tim Hortons Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival, we will expect to see the best of the best among the racing community. The best, not only in physical fitness and agility, but also in their indomitable spirit in countering challenges in their lives,” said David Wong, Chair of the Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival. “This year, we are very thankful to receive the Government’s support and funding of the 4 new projects to the Festival”, David Wong continued.
“Supported by Canadian Heritage, the two-day festival will showcase local artists and artisans through on-site workshops and on-stage performances as well as aboriginal ritual dancers who will perform at the event. The festival will be a platform to celebrate aboriginal heritage and the ancient Chinese heritage of dragon boating.
The Celebrate Ontario Diamond Jubilee, funded by the Ontario Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, this year is the Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II’s Accession to The Throne. It includes a new race theme “Diamond Dragons” that will celebrate the participants and visitors from the Commonwealth. Programs and celebrations are designed to attract the participation of the local Commonwealth groups and to increase the attendance of visitors from the 54 members of the Commonwealth countries through music and food.
“Power through Paddling”, this program will provide 75 youths from across the GTA giving them an opportunity to train and compete in the dragon boat racing. Thanks to the funding from the Ontario Trillium Foundation, this program will target youths from high-needs communities and give them the fundamentals of physical training.
Last but not the least, funded by the New Horizon Senior Program, the program “Golden Dragon, Greying Power” will include a senior race division for seniors who aer passionate about the water sport and want to take part in the paddling assimilating exercises and the on-water race. A “Wisdom Village” tent will be set up at the festival to allow seniors to enhance their life skills and capture the history and culture through the educational displays, rice dumplings demonstration and Tai Chi.”
“From the humble beginning of only 27 teams participating in the first festival back in 1989, we have evolved to a much bigger operation over the past two decades, thanks to the support from our community partners,” said Benny Cheung, President of Toronto Chinese Business Association. “Apart from dragon boating, we also offer two days of spectacular cultural entertainment, gourmet food experience, art and craft showcasing, and plenty of product sampling opportunities – all for free!”
Given the athletic focus of dragon boat races in North America, few tourists and race participants realize that the festival was originally inspired by the heroic sacrifice of an ancient Chinese poet, Qu Yuan, who drowned himself over 2,000 years ago in the Mi-lo River in protest of a corrupt regime. After learning about Qu Yuan’s suicide, the local folks rushed out on the water in fishing boats and tried desperately to save the poet. In despair, they beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles in order to keep the fish and evil spirits away from Qu’s body.
Year after year, generation after generation, to commemorate Qu Yuan, people in China hold boat races annually on the day of his death, the fifth day of the fifth month in the lunar calendar.
Organized by the Toronto Chinese Business Association and Toronto International Dragon Boat Race Festival, the 24th Tim Hortons Toronto International Dragon Boat Festival will once again bring a weekend of world class athletic challenge, free outdoor family entertainment and community spirit to Toronto Centre Island. On June 23 and 24, more than 5,000 dragon boat paddlers will be racing on Long Pond, many of whom have come year after year to this prestigious dragon boat event.
This year, the festival once again designates Canadian Diabetes Association as the fundraising beneficiary.
活龍躍現 – 傳統點睛儀式
6艘配滿儀式上的頭和尾飾、瑰麗奪目龍舟，寂靜地安寢於湖濱大道西(Lake Shore Boulevard West)南面的Sunnyside Beach；黎明後，陽光普照大地的一刻，隨着銅鑼聲響起，牠們將從沉睡中被喚醒。牠們耐心等待於一個非常特別的儀式，那一下關鍵接觸，讓其甦醒。
「多倫多Tim Hortons餐廳的業主為作為領銜贊助商，支持第廿四屆Tim Hortons多倫多國際龍舟節而感到榮幸。」Tim Hortons餐廳業主John Boughton道：「Tim Hortons相信成為社區的一員，比起只是居住其中來得更有意義。那代表要積極參與區內發展及對生活享受有所貢獻。這個龍舟節繼續會是多倫多最令人興奮且最受歡迎的夏季活動之一。」
「於第廿四屆Tim Hortons多倫多國際龍舟節中，我們將期待見到賽事中傑出中之最傑出，這傑出之最不只是敏捷壯健的體魄，還包括他們於生命中應對各項挑戰時不屈不撓的精神。」多倫多國際龍舟節主席黃家康說：「今年龍舟節，我們非常感激可以得到政府的支持及贊助4個全新的項目。」黃家康再一次重複。 由加國族裔廳支持，這個2天的龍舟節將透過現場工作坊展示出本地藝術家及工藝匠的出眾才華，還有多項舞台演出，包括有原住民族舞者於活動中的表演。龍舟節將會是慶祝加拿大原住文化及中國傳統龍舟文化的平台。
「第一次龍舟節於1989年舉辦，當時僅只27支隊伍參加，由這個小小的開始，經過過去20多個年頭，我們已發展至規模遠超當年多倍的大型活動，這要向支持我們的社區合作伙伴致以萬分謝意。」多倫多華商會會長張小惠說：「除龍舟賽事外，我們亦提供2天精彩的文娛活動、美食體驗、藝術及手工藝示範，以及大量體驗產品的機會 – 完全免費！」
於北美，一般人均知龍舟競賽是項體育運動，只有少數遊客及參賽者知道這個節日是源自一位中國古代詩人 – 屈原於2,000年前反抗腐敗政權而投汨羅江自盡的英勇事迹；當時人們知道屈原自殺，立即趕到河去，駕船四處拼命搜索，希望能救回這位詩人；最後，他們絶望地擊鼓及用槳激打河水，以驅趕游魚及惡靈遠離屈原的屍體。
由多倫多華商會及多倫多國際龍舟節，第廿四屆Tim Hortons多倫多國際龍舟節會再次將一個世界級運動競賽的周末、免費戶外家庭消閒活動及社區精神，帶到多倫多中央島。於6月23及24日，超過5,000名龍舟划手將逐鹿於Long Pond，當中不少人年復年的參加這個舉世知名的龍舟賽事。
今年，大會再次選定加拿大糖尿病協會(Canadian Diabetes Association)再次為籌款的受惠機構。
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