Monday, September 8, 2008

Zhonghe Festival

Zhonghe Festival , also known as the Blue Dragon Festival, is a traditional festival held on the second day of the second month of the Chinese calendar. The festival is a reflection of the ancient agrarian Chinese culture. In the tradition of Chinese culture, dragon is believed to be the king of all insects and at same time, it is also believed to be in charge of bringing rains, and both of these are important factors in ancient agricultural society. It is called "Dragon rising its head" because the dragon was traditionally regarded in China as the deity in charge of rain, an important factor in ancient agriculture. It is sometimes also simply called "2 Month 2", for short.

Zhonghe Festival is celebrated around the time of Jingzhe, one of the 24 solar terms . The phrase Jing Zhe has the meaning of awakening of the hibernated . Jing is startling, and Zhe is hibernated . This is the time during which the hibernated insects begun to wake up at the beginning of early spring, which is often accompanied by the arrival of the first rains, meaning the weather is getting warm. Zhonghe Festival is an important worship ritual of wishing for good harvest in the coming months. In addition to paying the respect to Dragon King, respect to Tu Di Gong was often paid together as well, and wishes are often made at the temples for Tu Di Gong. Another ancient practice to celebrate Zhonghe Festival was to get rid of insect pests in homes via fumigation by burning various herbs with recognized insect repellent effects.

Today, Zhonghe Festival is celebrated in various ways, most of which are still identical to those practiced in the ancient times, including eating Chinese "fajitas" and noodles. Perfume bags filled with the powder of grinded fragrant herbs are made to be carried by women and kids for good fortunes, though they are not used as insect repellent in ancient times anymore. Another ancient celebration still practiced today is that Zhonghe Festival is the first day of the Taihao temple fair that lasts until March 3 of the lunar calendar. Taihao temple fair is a celebration of ancestral deities Fuxi and Nüwa and Zhonghe Festival marking the beginning of this celebration.

There were ancient traditions of celebrating Zhonghe Festival that is no longer practiced, including:
* Women should not practice sewing because needles would puncture the eyes of dragon.
* Plant ashes were spread around the house, and then inside the house, finally around the earthen jug, symbolizing inviting the dragon to provide enough rain for good harvests.

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