‘Dotting’ the eye of the dragon
This year is both the year of the dragon according to the Chinese calendar, and the year of the first “Boundary Waters Dragon Boat Festival” which will be held on Canada Day along the riverfront.
Festivals of this kind are said to protect people from disease and evil spirits for the remainder of the year.
A prominent member of the community, in this case Mayor Roy Avis, was selected to ‘dot’ the eyes of the dragon on the boat, in order to awaken it’s spirit.
Mayor Avis first bowed three times to the dragon, and then dotted it’s eyes with red ink. The ink was mixed with a very small amount of water from Rainy Lake, along with a small amount of earth.
“I’ve never been involved in a ceremony like that before. It’s rewarding to see the initiatives that have taken place to have these races in the community,” he noted.
The ceremony celebrates the beginning on the paddling, and is said to bless the boat and the paddlers.
Having a dragon is the community is supposed to bring good luck and fortune.
Organizer Jenny Greenhalgh said “it really is a very ceremonial event, that dates back thousands of years in Chinese tradition.
“I think that we could do with some help here, so I think it’s a good tradition to follow at this time,” she added.
The dragon boat races, she said, are “going to be a real fun event for the family, and we’re hoping that it will continue year after year.”
“We really just want people to come out and have a really great time, because it’s a really exciting event.”