Brunei Darussalam


dumplingfestival.jpg© Jan Shim Photography

Today is the fifth day of the fifth lunar month when the Chinese celebrate the Dragon Boat Festival or Duan Wu Jie or in my case, I’ve come to call this day Dumpling Festival since I was a kid. The origins of Duan Wu Jie goes like this (as told by one interpretation …)

Qu Yuan (屈原), an honest minister, was undermined in his efforts to fight corruption in the state of Chu. Slandered by false allegations, he was disgraced and banished. He drowned himself in Mi Luo River. Hundreds of “dragon boats” searched for his body. The people beat gongs to frighten the “River Dragon” into returning Qu Yuan. They threw overboard rice dumplings wrapped in leaves to divert the fish from eating the patriot.

Today, the Chinese hold dragon bost races to commemorate the event. But more importantly, they remember Qu Yuan by eating dumplings filled with meat, eggs, chestnuts, beans and spices on Dragon Boat Day. – source: internet

The tradition Chinese in Brunei follow is a simple one and has been as such for as long as I can remember. While we have no dragon boats here, we do have the most symbolic item of all and that’s rice dumplings, glutinous rice with meat and beans wrapped in bamboo leaves in a pyramid shape. Rice dumplings are sold everyday in a variety of popular flavours, curry being my favourite.Once a year, the Bruneian Chinese especially those in the Belait District make plans for a late afternoon out at the beach and is the only day out of a whole calendar year when people congregate including expatriates who have lived here long enough to understand the tradition and indulge in the festivity, even if it’s just for a few hours!

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