BE Offices once again participates in the COSMIC Dragon Boat Regatta in support of the Children of St Mary’s Intensive Care unit.
On Thursday 28th July BE Offices took part for the 4th time in the annual COSMIC Dragon Boat Regatta and were thrilled to finish in an amazing 4th place. The Dragon Boat Race has taken place in the Paddington Basin for over 10 years, with BE Offices participating since 2017, and it’s great to see this event back after a two-year pause due to Covid.
Inspired by a 2000-year-old tradition, the annual Dragon Boat Regatta sees twenty teams of ten rowers and one drummer race 100 metres down the length of the Merchant Square canal, in a bid to reach the finish line and take home the trophy. Fancy dress is encouraged, this year BE’s team, ‘BE Oarsome’, took on a Viking theme, with a group made up of enthusiastic clients from their Merchant Square and Euston business centres. Other teams dressed as pirates, sailors, drag queens and even bumble bees.
Dragon boat racing has been a traditional Chinese paddled watercraft activity for over 2000 years and became a modern international sport in Hong Kong in 1976. A dragon boat is a human-powered watercraft originating from the Guangdong Province in China’s southern region. A national holiday in China, the renowned Dragon Boat Festival falls on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month. As the lunar calendar is used to set the date, the festival is celebrated on a different day every year, although in general it falls between the end of May and the end of June.
During China’s Cultural Revolution in the 1960s, campaigns against traditional culture and customs caused the popularity of traditional festivals like the Dragon Boat Festival to decrease immensely. However, in recent years, the festival has begun to regain its traditional place as an important holiday in Mainland China. Following the Chinese government’s attempts to promote traditional cultures, the Dragon Boat Festival re-emerged as an official public holiday in 2008.
As the name of the festival suggests, dragon boat racing is the most important activity of the national holiday. It’s thought to originate from people paddling out to find the body of Qu Yuan, a poet and government official, in the river. During the Warring States Period of Ancient China (475-221 B.C.), Qu Yuan was exiled and drowned himself in the Miluo River on the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, when the State of Chu fell to the State of Qin. Locals tried desperately to save him and recover his body but were unable to do so. To commemorate Qu Yuan, people would beat drums and paddle out in boats on the same day each year to keep fish and evil spirits away from this body.
The other story of origin relates to where the festival falls in the lunar calendar. Since ancient times, the fifth month has been considered unlucky. It’s known by some as the ‘month of poison’ as traditionally the ‘five poisonous creatures’ would emerge during this month – centipedes, scorpions, snakes, toads and spiders, due to the warm weather and seasonal changes. As well as this, natural disasters and illnesses are common in the fifth month.
For competitive events, the wooden or fibreglass boats are shaped and decorated to look like Chinese dragons. Boats tend to vary in size depending on the region and usually need around 30-60 people to help paddle them. During the races, teams paddle in harmony quickly, accompanied by the sound of a beating drum. It’s said that the winning team will have good luck and happy lives for the year to come!
The annual Dragon Boat Regatta supports COSMIC (Children of St. Mary’s Intensive Care) which was established in 1994 and supports the Children’s Intensive Care Unit at St. Mary’s Hospital, which overlooks the Paddington Basin, by helping patients and their families and enabling the dedicated team to treat hundreds of critically ill children and babies in intensive care each year. We are delighted to once again be supporting this amazing cause.
Posted by Michelle Winton