Dragon Boat Festival

by Erica Qin

On Sunday, June 4th, CAPA hosted the Dragon Boat Festival at the Dancel YMCA in Ellicott City.

The history of the Dragon Boat Festival extends back to ancient China, made to commemorate the life and death of poet Qu Yuan. The festival is celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth month on the lunar calendar with dragon boat races and eating Zongzi, Chinese sticky rice dumplings. This year, the Dragon Boat Festival falls on June 22nd.

More than 300 families came together to celebrate. For both CAPA members and invited guests, this festival provides a connection between the multitude of cultural groups within Howard County.

“I really believe this event is important for Chinese Americans to really understand their culture and the importance of belonging and inheriting this identity,” said Dr. Chao Wu, Maryland House of Delegates representative for District 9A. “Not only for ourselves, but also for future generations.”

Many other state and county leaders besides Wu were in attendance. For example, District 12 Senator Clarence Lam spoke at the reception, preceding the introduction of CAPA’s honorary board members. Afterwards, the Gina Ling Dance Chamber, Zijun Liu, Taichi, and Yangtze River Chorus all performed on stage, combining cultural dance with American style music. Finally, the President’s Volunteer Service Award was presented to young students who earned enough hours throughout the past year to qualify.

In addition to the performances and speeches, there are 22 sponsors and food vendors who set up booths at the event. These booths ranged from the Pinder Plotkin Legal Team to the Great Wall Supermarket.

“It makes me think more about tradition; the kids are learning too,” said Keller Williams realtor Lu Shun, who also had a booth at the festival. “By participating in these fun activities, our children [can] learn about Chinese culture, history, and find it all very interesting.”

The combination of the older and younger generations at the Dragon Boat Festival serves as a testament to the strength of culture, no matter the distance from home. CAPA Cares, one of the youth groups under CAPA, aims to bring immigrant seniors memories of home.

“Those elderly immigrants don’t usually get a lot of Chinese events and they are isolated because they can’t go outside, especially during COVID,” CAPA Cares co-president Jessica Li said. “So events like these allow them to enjoy a taste of Chinese culture and remind them of their homeland.”

The Dragon Boat Festival also acts as a network between the various cultures throughout Howard County. Anyone who attends can learn how to make a traditional zongzi, watch the belly dancing performance from House Darbuka, or enjoy samosas from Chutney Indian Restaurant.

“I want to see people know more about our culture, and be proud of our culture, and also think about how to work together with other communities,” said Board of Education member Dr. Yun Lu. The Dragon Boat Festival is one of many events that further the deep interconnectedness of culture within Howard County.

It’s extremely important to not only remember one’s roots, but also appreciate the flourishing communities outside of our own. By taking notice of the differences between customs and appreciating even the smallest details, we in Howard County can create our own culture, one that accepts anyone with open arms. “When you look at other, different cultures, you can also appreciate what you have,” said Dr. Linfeng Chen.

The interweaving of various cultures is a beautiful thing to experience. Not only at the Dragon Boat Festival, but also at a family friend’s party, at a school Multicultural Festival, or even at home with your own family. Each new day is another chance to learn more about ourselves and those around us.