As it is in India, Taiwan is also a land of many spectacular festivals. The Dragon Boat Festival, which falls on May 30th this year, is a holiday anticipated by every Taiwanese. The boat races that form a crucial part of the festivities, is so renowned that countries like USA, Canada, Australia and several others have adopted their own version of the dragon boat races. Then of course there’s food. Lots and lots of food! Families and friends get together to enjoy the boat races in each other’s company while sharing delicious fare among themselves. In fact many food stalls come up a week before the actual festival and start running with full vigour. If you can’t be there in Taiwan to enjoy the celebration, the Moon of Taj treats are the perfect way to experience a slice of Taiwanese festivities in India. Whether it’s the favourite sweet of the Taiwanese, milk nougats or exotic flavoured fruit tarts, be sure to take in the rich Taiwanese history and culture.
Here are some of the fun things you should know about the Dragon Boat Festival:
Dragon Boat Festival commemorates the death of the poet Qu Yuan who lived during the troubled years of the Zhou dynasty. His popularity in the court earned him a lot of enemies and he was eventually exiled for treason following a political plot against him. Twenty-eight years later, when the Zhou dynasty was defeated by the Qing dynasty, Qu Yuan took his life by drowning himself in the Milou River in order to show his loyalty to his emperor. The locals took their boats out to rescue the beloved poet and threw sticky rice balls in the river so that the fish wouldn’t feed on his body.
The Boat Races
No other boat race in the world can beat the pomp and ceremony of the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan. As a remembrance to the boatmen who went to rescue Qu Yuan, races are held across various locations of this vibrant island. The festival is so famed that it’s not just the native Taiwanese who compete in these races but a whole host of foreign travellers arrive in their own boats to pose a challenge to the locals. The brilliantly decorated boats are all crafted by master boat makers. There’s a drummer in each boat to fire up the rowers and to add a dash of dazzle as well.
The Traditions and Beliefs
Apart from the world renowned boat races, the Dragon Boat Festival is also marked by a number of traditions and beliefs that the Taiwanese have been following for years. In order to ward of evil, people hang calamus and wormwood on their doors and children wear perfumed medicine sachets. One of the most interesting belief among the Taiwanese is that one can make an egg can stand on its end at exactly 12 pm during the day of the festival.
No festival is complete without a table full of food. Dragon Boat Festival is no different. A long held tradition is to enjoy triangle shaped rice dumplings called Zhongzi. These can be packed with a whole lot of different fillings from meat to mushrooms and nuts. Sweets and desserts are also a big part of any Taiwanese celebration. The Moon of Taj Nougats and the Moon of Taj Fruit Tarts are all reminiscent of these special occasions. These desserts are a special nod to the flavours, history, tradition and customs of Taiwan. For instance, fruits form a very indispensable part of the island’s cuisine and the Moon of Taj Fruit Tarts indulge in ingredients and flavours unique to Taiwan. Cheese & Pineapple, Green Tea & Mango and Orange & Chocolate fruit tarts all evoke the grand celebrations of the Dragon Boat Festival in Taiwan.