Monday, July 23, 2012

The Awakening of the Dragons

A dragon boat race is part of an overall "Dragon Boat Festival" that technically, in the Chinese culture, is held on the 5th day of the 5th month of their calendar.  During this time, the forces of the universe, ying and yang, are considered out of balance.  One symptom of the unbalance can be extreme weather events (hmm, maybe there is something to this.)  One of the ceremonies held to get ying and yang back into balance is the "Awakening of the Dragons". (I am not of this culture, so if I misstated anything, please correct me.)

This is how the dragons awoke a week ago Saturday in Ithaca, New York and danced for us.  This was at a Dragonboat festival held in Ithaca, home of Cornell University, and a multi-ethnic population drawn by the university.
The "dragons" get ready to don their costumes, showing the beautiful art work that goes into these costumes.

Part of the costumes on the ground.

The ceremony begins with dignataries, including the Mayor Of Ithaca"dotting*the*eyes" of the dragons - actually the dragon heads of the racing dragon boats, which were unscrewed and brought to the platform.  The mayor is directly to the right of the person wearing a red hat and red shorts.  He is the youngest mayor in Ithaca's history andis ready to bring change. (One of his campaign platforms, for example, was making Ithaca a more walkable city.)

Then, the dance began.
Here, the the dancers still somewhat visible.  (By the way, it was warm and humid that day.)  The dance is accompanied by the clash of cymbals. I can't imagine how hot it was in those costumes.
I am not knowledgeable of the symbolism displayed in this dance, but I understand there is a lot, even to the number of scales on each dragon.

This is quite an art form - very athletic, and I enjoyed it very much.  Although, I must say, if Ithaca is to become a more walkable city, they really need to do something about those dragons (and the terrible traffic for a city its size, but that is a post for another day.)

We are fortunate that dragon boating is catching on in more and more cities - maybe one day it will reach the Binghamton, NY area where I live.

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