The common people, upon learning of his suicide, rushed out on the water in their fishing boats to the middle of the river and tried desperately to save Qu Yuan. They beat drums and splashed the water with their paddles in order to keep the fish and evil spirits from his body. Later on, they scattered rice into the water to prevent him from suffering hunger. Another belief is that the people scattered rice to feed the fish, in order to prevent the fishes from devouring the poet's body.
However, late one night, the spirit of Qu Yuan appeared before his friends (that is, he resurrected from the dead) and told them that the rice meant for him was being intercepted by a huge river dragon. He asked his friends to wrap their rice into three-cornered silk packages to ward off the dragon. This has been a traditional food ever since known as zongzi or sticky rice wrapped in leaves, although they are wrapped in leaves instead of silk. In commemoration of Qu Yuan it is said, people hold dragon boat races annually on the day of his death.
While dragon boat race has kept its form more or less throughout the years, we now eat the rice treat ourselves instead of feeding it to the fish. Why waste perfectly good food?
The race is held at Treasure Island by San Francisco every year, but I had never witnessed one myself. It seems to be a crime since I’m only 40 minutes away from San Francisco, so my friend and I made the trip this year. It was a good excuse for us to take more pictures – she with a seriously professional camera, and I with a dummy camera.