Colorful dragon boats vying at 2015 Israel Dragon Boat Festival

[Source]    the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University [Time]    2015-06-04 13:37:19 
 

 

On May 1, “2015 Israel Dragon Boat Festival” was solemnly opened alongside the Yarkon River, Israel. This event was co-sponsored by the Embassy of the People’s Republic of China in the State of Israel and the Israel Rowing Federation and hosted by the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University.

A total of 29 dragon boat teams from the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University, the Association of Chinese in Israel and other institutions or organizations from different places in Israel participated in the dragon boat race. As with the Revealing Traditional Chinese Culture Exhibition on the embankment, the race was also part of the grand, joyful dragon boat carnival for over a thousand local residents.

Mr. Zhan Yongxin, Chinese Ambassador to Israel, Ms. Mahrata Baruch-Ron, Deputy Mayor of Tel Aviv and Mr. Eitan Gluzman, Chairman of Israel Rowing Federation attended the opening ceremony and respectively delivered speeches. Later, Ambassador Zhan Yongxin and Deputy Mayor Mahrata Baruch-Ron jointly painted the dragon eyes with their red-inked brushes for those boats ready to start off and then performed the traditional duanwu (Dragon Boat Festival) memorial rites by throwing rice from blue and white porcelain bowls into the Yarkon River.

The Yarkon River rippled in the bright sun of early summer. The 29 dragon boat teams, excited and high-spirited, were divided into four groups: the professional group, the mixed group, the entrepreneurs’ group and the women’s group, all rowing together towards the start line.

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Dragon boat teams assembling at the opening ceremony of 2015 Israel Dragon Boat Festival

Accompanied by the sonorous, rhythmic drumbeats, the oars cut the river’s surface. Each team was racing fast towards the finish line. The 300-meter-long racing segment was flanked by crowds of cheering spectators rooting for the players. Their cheers mingling with the players’ shouts echoed in the air boisterously.

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Dragon boats rowing on the Yarkon River

Of the non-professional groups, many Israeli boat teams had some new and interesting ideas. One of them took “Happy Pirates” as its theme and had each player wear a pirate hat. Another had “Chinese Lunar Year of the Goat” as its theme with each player dressed as “Lazy Goat” (one of the cartoon characters in a famous Chinese animation Pleasant Goat and Big Big Wolf). The team from a kibbutz decorated their oars with inflated red peppers. All these diverse themes made the race even more thrilling and eye-catching for the local spectators.

It was the second time that the team from the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University, consisting of altogether 11 Chinese and Israeli students and teachers, participated in the dragon boat race. This non-professional team, as a symbol of the friendship and cultural exchange between China and Israel, was so united and courageous that it won the first place in both rounds, which brought itself great popularity.

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Dragon boat team from the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University at 2015 Israel Dragon Boat Festival

The team of the overseas Chinese in Israel made its debut wonderfully in the dragon boat race as a new force. At the award ceremony, the Israel Rowing Federation presented the “China-Israel Friendship Award” to the teams from the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University and the Association of Chinese in Israel. Chairman Eitan Gluzman hoped that there would be more dragon boat teams from China and other countries taking part in the race in the future. He wished to turn the “Israel Dragon Boat Festival” into an international event.  

While the dragon boats were rowing fiercely on the Yarkon River, many local residents were experiencing the charm of Chinese culture in the Revealing Traditional Chinese Culture Exhibition on the embankment and the Chinese Food Exhibit at the wharf of Daniel Rowing Center. The Revealing Traditional Chinese Culture Exhibition was composed of three stands respectively showcasing Chinese calligraphy, Chinese tea ceremony and Peking Opera masks, which were all well-received. 

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Two children painting Peking Opera masks at 2015 Israel Dragon Boat Festival

The most intriguing for children was the stand of Peking Opera masks. Many parents who took their kids to the stand to paint the masks showed strong interest in Chinese culture, some of whom said that they hoped their children could learn the Chinese language and go to China for study in the future. In the Chinese Food Exhibit, the Confucius Institute at Tel Aviv University offered delicious steamed dumplings so that local residents had the chance to experience the charm of Chinese culture through their taste buds.

Photographed/Written by Bao Yinhui

 
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