Published on: 14 June 2013

A number of Preparatory School boys studying Chinese learnt the significance of the Dragon Boat Festival and were treated to ‘zongzi’ on Wednesday. Christ Church mother Mingli Kuek (Joseph, Year 8) pre-prepared the traditional rice dumplings and gave boys a demonstration on how to make the celebratory snack.

Chinese teacher Karen Sim said she enlisted the help of Mrs Kuek, who is originally from Shenzhen in China, for Duanwu Jie (Dragon Boat Festival), which is celebrated on fifth day of the fifth month of the Lunar Calendar. “Duanwu Jie celebrates the memory of the poet Qu Yuan, who drowned himself while in exile after being accused of treason,” Ms Sim said.

“Legend has it that Qu Yuan jumped into Miluo River on this day and when the people heard they quickly rowed out in boats to save him. They also threw zongzi into the river so that the fish would not eat his body. Hence, the dragon boat races and eating of rice dumplings on this day.”

Zongzi consists of lightly fried and seasoned sticky rice, placed into a bamboo leaf, followed by pieces of mushroom and pork, which are then covered over in rice again. The leaf is then folded into a triangular shape, tied and boiled for three hours.

Ms Sim said the boys had a wonderful time watching Mrs Kuek make the dumplings as well as tasting them. “They also learnt how to name the main ingredients in Mandarin such as nuo mi (glutinous rice), hua gu (mushroom) and zhu rou (pork).

“One boy described the zongzi as ‘heaven wrapped in bamboo’,” Ms Sim said. “Many commented that it was the best sticky rice they had ever had. They also got to eat with chopsticks. We have been practicing for the past two weeks and they finally got to apply their skills!”

Ms Sim thanked Mrs Kuek for volunteering her time over three periods and for the hours she spent preparing the zongzi at home for the boys. “Mrs Kuek is also an active volunteer in the Senior School Library and Music Library,” she said.