The Chinese New Year of the Rabbit was warmly welcomed with an Opening Ceremony for Dragon Boat paddling on Saturday 12 February 2011 at Cockle Bay, Darling Harbour! Paddlers from all over NSW along with a crowd of enthusiastic supporters, spectators, tourists and the general public enjoyed a day filled with culture and fast paced festival racing!
Each year it is inspiring how more and more paddlers are eager to be involved in the Ceremonial side of Dragon Boating! Starting with “Northern Beaches” (the club allocated to fit each of the boats with drums, heads and tails in the early hours of the morning) to DBNSW volunteers (who helped “dress” the boats with decorations) to the paddlers lucky enough to be in the boats for the eye dotting ceremony, and concluding with “Bei Loon” (the club allocated to “undress” the boats at the end of the day) , the “Spirit” of Dragon Boat paddling was very much present on the day!
Before racing commenced, an “unofficial” eye dotting ceremony was performed by Raymond Tai and Linda Collins, with the help of DBNSW officials. This gave the Dragons “sight” before racing! Taoist priests chanted on the pontoon and the ceremonial table was set with offerings for the official Blessing Ceremony held at 10.30am.
VIP’s including Cr Robert Kok (Chair, CNY Festival Advisory Group), Dr Cindy Pan (Festival Ambassador), Raymond Leung (IDBF representative) and Lindy Hou (Paralympian & Festival Ambassador) gave “life” to the Dragons in the Eye Dotting Ceremony performed. Paddlers celebrated the “Awakening” of the dragons by cheering and splashing, creating a great spectacle for the crowd of onlookers
Celebrations for Chinese New Year were a huge success and I’m sure that the City of Sydney were very pleased with the outcome! The event also received TV coverage on SBS and Channel 10 news, as well as in a mixture of local newspapers. Every year the races become bigger and more prestigious, while keeping the culture of Dragon boat paddling alive!