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Hosts of Chinese will make merry this Thursday chomping at rice cakes covered with bamboo leaves marking the Dragon Boat Festival. The Nation’s most sardonic formal holiday will be marked by numerous boat rowing races with teams competing in dragon shaped vessels.

It is ironic that Qu Yuan, the most illustrious of all Chinese dissidents, can be feted with a day by a dictatorial state that bats no eyelid pounding any semblance of opposition by its nationals. Legend has it that Qu Yuan committed suicide by drowning himself in a river over two millennia ago. This nationalistic minister is said to have stood up to the inept shady government of the time but lost favor and was deported.

According to the opposition, the status quo remains in the current Chinese political arena. The leadership still wields an iron rod and pins down any semblance of dissension nipping it at the bud.

This in itself paints a bad picture of the otherwise noble festival.

Qu Yuan was also feted in Taiwan which also invalidated opposition during its days of military rule that closed in 1987. Similarly Singapore celebrates the day by masking as a sporting event despite lack of freedom of association in the country.

The fiesta which was given official government recognition in 2008 has been part and parcel of Chinese life for ages more so in the South of the country. Apparently no one has had the guts to seek public opinion on this sticky issue.

The fete seems to have acquired an international life of sorts with international teams participating in the recent times. So far there have been racing teams for the U.S., Australia and several European countries. This becomes more of a modernization of the peoples’ bid to try and rescue Qu Yuan when they got wind of his plunge into the Milou River.

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