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Dragon boat race in Croatia celebrates traditional Chinese festival

ZAGREB (XINHUA) – The moment the dragon boat race started, the participating boats rushed forward amid the rhythmic drumming and the rowers’ vigorous shouts while the spectators enthusiastically cheered on the shore for the contestants.

The dragon boat race held at the Jarun Lake in the southwest part of the Croatian capital on Saturday was part of activities organised by the Confucius Institute at the University of Zagreb to celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival. It was the eighth that kind of event held in Zagreb.

This traditional Chinese festival, which falls on June 22 this year, has a history of over 2,000 years and is celebrated across China and around the world to commemorate Qu Yuan (about 340-278 BC), a patriotic Chinese poet who is known today for his patriotism and contributions to classical verse.

“This year we have 22 teams participating in the dragon boat race and this is the largest ever organised by the Confucius Institute since it was established 11 years ago, and this shows the race is getting more and more attractive in Croatia,” Croatian director of the Confucius Institute Kresimir Jurak told Xinhua.

In Saturday’s race, a team from Korcula, the alleged birthplace of the legendary European traveller Marco Polo, who stayed in China for 17 years in the 13th Century, was the race champion.

A team of locals participates in a dragon boat race held on the Jarun Lake in Zagreb, Croatia. PHOTO: XINHUA

More than 600 people attended the event, including Chinese ambassador to Croatia Qi Qianjin and representative of the Zagreb City Office for Sports and Youth Darko Gazan.

Jurak said he was sure that the participants will be over thousands in the years ahead.

Qi said he was glad to see that Croatian friends are actively participating in the dragon boat race, expressing his hope that the event shares traditional Chinese culture with Croatian friends and enhances the friendship between the people of two countries.

In addition to the dragon boat race, the students and teachers of the Confucius Institute also performed dragon dance, dragon boat crafting, Tai Chi, Chinese calligraphy and shuttlecock kicking for the spectators. Local residents either participated in the activities with gusto or watched the race and performances with enthusiasm.

Karlo Maskaric, once a student of the Confucius Institute for three years, told Xinhua that Chinese culture is attractive to him.

“I enjoy the dragon boat race. It is very interesting and that is why I came from Dubrovnik (392km away from Zagreb) to (watch) the race,” he said.