China had some respite from the tragic events surrounding the Sichuan earthquake, when the nation celebrated the Dragon Boat Festival on June 8. With a long history of 2,500 years, this ancient tradition brought a time of much needed joy to many, but also served as a reminder of lost family members in the quake aftermath.
On the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, the day was celebrated by dragon boat races, and people ate traditional zongzi, a glutinous rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo or reed leaves.
As restructuring work began in Sichuan, this festival, always a time for family reunion, brought more sadness and sorrow to quake survivors who had lost their family and homes to the disaster. Beijing Review reporters spent the Dragon Boat Festival at ground zero and were deeply moved by the immense optimism and toughness of the survivors.
Meanwhile, boxes of zongzi from all over the country poured into the quake-hit zone, reaching almost every temporary shelter. People from provincial capital Chengdu and neighboring Chongqing Municipality sent homemade zongzi to disaster areas, and celebrated the festival together with quake survivors, rescue teams and relief troops.
People in disaster areas were greatly touched by the gesture and are slowly recovering from the agony of loss. Now the Sichuan people, who have the support of the government, people all over the country and even the international community, are ready to pick up and rebuild new lives on the debris left by the earthquake. The Dragon Boat Festival is imbued with the spiritual values of life, unity and independence, the most valuable part of Chinese tradition that has been demonstrated by the Sichuan people.
The lives of quake survivors will go on and all are optimistic about the future. "From today on, we are ready for a new life," said Li Hejun, Vice Chairman of the Wenchuan County Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference. "I can assure you that, in the near future, new hospitals, schools and shops will emerge on the rubble."
The value of our tradition seemingly contains not only delicious food, but also the hopes of a nation.