Awak­en­ing the dragon for good luck and smooth sail­ing

Times Colonist - - Front Page - CINDY E. HARNETT

Vera Loo, 5, and Tara Hast­ings, with the Fair­way Gorge Pad­dling Club, paint the dragon’s eyes in the eye-dot­ting cer­e­mony on Fri­day, as Taoist priests “awaken the dragon‚” to start the Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val.

A tra­di­tional awak­en­ing-the-dragon cer­e­mony kicked off the three-day Vic­to­ria Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val and rac­ing re­gatta in the In­ner Har­bour on Fri­day.

The 2,000-year-old tra­di­tion, in­tended to bring fes­ti­val par­tic­i­pants good luck and smooth sail­ing, sets the right tone for the fes­ti­val, said Erik Ages, gen­eral man­ager of the Fair­way Gorge Pad­dling Club, which pro­duces the Vic­to­ria Dragon Boat Fes­ti­val.

Taoist priests ar­rived from Van­cou­ver to take part in the bless­ing cer­e­mony, the light­ing of joss sticks, a type of in­cense, the pre­sen­ta­tion of gifts, and the paint­ing of the eyes of cer­e­mo­nial dragon heads — all in­tended to awaken the spirit of the dragon.

“I think it cen­tres peo­ple and grounds them,” Ages said.

The fes­ti­val at Ship Point in Vic­to­ria’s In­ner Har­bour, in its 24th year, is Vic­to­ria’s largest Asian cul­tural fes­ti­val and is a fundraiser for the B.C. Cancer Foun­da­tion.

Races take place all day to­day and Sun­day with the fes­ti­val site open from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days.

For cancer sur­vivors and their friends and fam­i­lies, this is an im­por­tant time in the cal­en­dar, “a time when ev­ery­one af­fected by cancer comes to­gether,” Ages said.

For the first time, there will be a boat with sur­vivors of other can­cers in ad­di­tion to teams of breast-cancer sur­vivors and their sup­port­ers. The event is free to watch. Pro­ceeds come from team regis­tra­tion fees and re­lated ini­tia­tives. The teams are ei­ther co-ed or all women, and com­pete in var­i­ous cat­e­gories.

Along with the races, there will be live bands, a food court and ac­tiv­i­ties for fam­i­lies.

For more in­for­ma­tion, go to vic­to­ri­adrag­onboat.com.

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