Perahu Naga, A Race for Special Celebration

Perahu Naga

Every 5th day of the 5th month in the Khongcu Lek calendar, the Chinese descendant community around the Cisadane River has a celebration with Perahu Naga race. The celebration, which is enlivened by various events and peranakan traditions, is related to the celebration of Peh Cun. 

Chinese people know Peh Cun as Twan Yang’s day. On that day, Twan Ngo time which is around 11.00 – 13.00 is believed to be a good time to pick medicinal plants. In addition, during Twan Ngo the Chinese community also performed the Twan Yang prayer and performed various other traditions.

The History of Perahu Naga Race

The tradition of the dragon boat race is one of the various traditions in the celebration of peh cun on the Cisadane River. The emergence of the dragon boat tradition cannot be separated from river culture in the Ciu Dynasty. 

According to a book entitled Hari Raya Twan Yang (Day of Life) published by the religious and social association Boen Tek Bio, the tradition of the dragon boat race began with the incident on the Bek Lo River.

The incident of Sungai Bek Lo tells the story of a great minister who is known to be strong and influential named Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan is also known for successfully uniting six countries into the Cho State to attack the Chien State. 

Perahu Naga

The people of Chien Country then counterattacked by spreading slander against Qu Yuan. Qu Yuan was finally expelled from his country. Qu Yuan also experienced betrayal from his own country.

After a long time, Qu Yuan finally heard the news that the Cho Country’s Capital was destroyed by the Chien Country’s attack. In silent tears and silent anger, after the Twan Yang prayer, Qu Yuan recited his poem entitled “Li Sao” which means “Fall In Troubles” in front of many people. People were stunned to hear Qu Yuan’s poems which poured out love for their homeland and people.

 After reading the poem, Qu Yuan took a boat to Bek Lo River. He stepped away from the crowds of people and plunged into the rushing stream of the river. Several people who had seen him tried to help and search, but the effort failed.

After that incident, in the second year of the Twan Yang celebration, a fisherman named Gi Hu brought a bamboo shell filled with rice and spread it into the river as a form of respect for Qu Yuan.  In the following years, a Perahu Naga race (Liong Cun) was held as a form of remembrance for the search for Qu Yuan’s body.  

This tradition is the forerunner of the dragon boat race which is always held during the Peh cun celebration.

How The Race Works

The Perahu Naga race in celebration of peh cun on the Cisadane River was attended by four groups.  They were raced using a dragon boat across the Cisadane River. The track line taken by the participants is 500 meters long. 

In one day, two groups will compete. The winning group will then be pitted against other winners for the championship title. The winning group is entitled to a prize of money that has been provided by the committee.

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