The traditions of our dragon boat sport.

The eye dotting ceremony.

There are traditions linked to our dragon boat sport. Usually we would hold an ‘eye dotting’ ceremony around the time of the Chinese New Year. This traditional part of the dragon boat festival is thought to awaken our dragons so their spirit can watch over us and keep us safe.

The pandemic has interrupted our cycle of seasonal events and only now have we thought it safe to have a socially distanced gathering outdoors to remind ourselves of these traditions and the ethos of our team.

Louisa  spoke about the origins of  our team and its activities and spoke of these traditional ceremonies being interrupted by pandemic measures. She reminded us of how the team supported each other when we were unable to paddle and the delight of having so many new members able to join the team activities.

Peter explained the origins of the dragon boat sport and festival referring to the poet Qu Yuan and how various traditions have been built into festival celebrations.

We usually dot the eyes of the dragon heads to awaken their spirit. During the time of pandemic measures, up to today, the dragons’ eyes have remained dotted and open; and the dragons’ spirit has remained awake and watchful, over Paddlers for Life.  Today, a red dot was painted on the tongue of each dragon, gently nudging her spirit to stir, a red ribbon tied around one horn of each dragon, representing courage and hope and colours of the rainbow adorning the temple of each dragon, noting our heartfelt thankfulness to the NHS.

So we had members newer and more experienced who put a dot on the tongue of our dragons

There are food offerings and traditional foods to celebrate the festival.


Hell money is burnt.










Buckwheat is thrown onto the water.

Finally one of our teams raced forward in our dragon boat and beat the waters with their paddles calling “Awake, awake, awake.”










It was good to gather many members together again and hear these explanations.

Visitors were invited to take a Paddlers for Life team pin as Louisa explained our links with teams across the world.

Our three dragon heads are resplendent after the ceremony. Thank you NHS.

Today all members were given a pearl with the pink colour ribbon of breast cancer and purple for all cancers. The pearl represents the item, person or location being protected by the spirit of the dragons in Chinese culture.


1 Reply to "The traditions of our dragon boat sport."

  • comment-avatar
    July 12, 2021 (10:32 am)

    Fantastic day and Thanks to Nick for taking the pictures and recording such a memorable day for everyone, happy memories once more made.
    Being together, but apart, due to socially distancing rules and Covid has a been difficult isolating time for many and getting together safely today has been a long time coming for many of us. Seeing smiling faces, newbies and oldies, friendships formed and rekindled strengthens our paddling bond.
    The day was also a wonderful reminder of PFL traditions, the story telling, the history and to show how PFL and our paddling buddies support each other both on and off the water. Not forgetting across the water reaching out to other teams in the spirit of the Pink Paddling Movement Internationally.
    Thank you to everyone involved in “making it happen” as the song goes “It’s such a perfect day” and it was Paddles up everyone !!!
    Will be remembered

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