I’ve seen Jackie Chan wallowing in alcohol until he started to sway and stagger, unleashing his drunken Kung Fu strokes in “The Legend of the Drunken Master”. This time, it was a group of intoxicated men that were already dancing their way to Senado Square early in the morning around 9am, leaving us agape!
The Kung Fu Dragons – they don’t fight, they dance hard and…
… they spew!
We were in the right place at the right time. On the eighth day of the fourth lunar month each year, three Chinese religious festivals coincide together – the Drunken Dragon Festival, the Feast of the Buddha and Tam Kung Festival. All three festivals take place at different locations in Macau, and we joined in the boisterous celebration with the “drunken dragons” at Leal Senado Square.
It’s absolutely amusing to watch the drunken dragons spewing at each other while doing the Kung Fu dance with serious facial expressions!
The drunken dragons feast each other with wine too, to make sure that all are really drunk!
Organized by the Fishermen Associations of Macau, the parade starts from Kuan Tai Temple near Senado Square and the drunken men will go around shops and piers to dance and celebrate this unique festival.
The friendly intoxicated gang are all camera ready!
Donned in black pants and white shirt with two big conspicuous Chinese characters that literally mean “Drunken Dragon”, as well as a red bandana attached with golden flowers tied around the head, each man was carrying a part of a wooden dragon – the head or the tail. Mind you, it’s not a dragon as a whole, but a segmented one!
According to the legend, back in the Qing dynasty, a village was plagued by a deadly epidemic. The villagers prayed for protection and paraded the streets with a large Buddha. Along the way, they were blocked by a huge python. However, the creature was killed, cut into pieces and threw into the river by a drunken monk. Miraculously, the sick villagers who drank the water from the river had recovered. They believed that the python was a divine dragon that had saved their lives. They carved the image of a dragon and celebrated the Buddha festival while drinking wildly and dancing with the dragon.
The mythical legend has evolved into an annual jovial feast in Macau, with curious tourists, photographers and the press all thronging the Senado Square to see the Dragon Parade.
Accompanied by the beating of the drums, the drunken men circled around while holding the dragon parts and seemingly swayed in a trance but they never fall! What really amused me was when the drunken gang started spewing wine directly at each other’s face. No wonder some photographers wrapped their cameras in plastic bags!
The photographers kept asking the drunken men to spew again and again for photos!
Next time when someone spews at you, don’t get offended; he might be the drunken dragon.
Another interesting highlight of the festival was the Floating Procession or the Floating Colours as translated from Chinese （飘色）. This was the first we saw children with thick make-up and folklore costumes appear to be gliding in the air!
Initially, we really couldn’t figure out how a kid was able to lift another kid with a stick for hours! Hidden under the costumes are actually rods and wires that can hold the children in an upright position. It’s really a test of endurance for the young ones who have to stand on the decorated handcarts under the hot sun, yet not forgetting to smile and wave at the crowd!
“Do you want to be the next “floating” kid?”
The Lion with the widest smile.
Put that smile on your face.
What’s the guy doing behind the Lion?
Everyone can pose with the Lion for a wild shot.
Off they went, the Lion Dance troupe.
The young Dragon Dance troupe.
The guardian and the crouching dragons…
Hardcore photographers standing on the edge to nab their million dollar shots.
At the end of the festival, everyone joins in the feast. Folks will queue up to get the food prepared by the association.
Located along Avenida de Almeida Ribeiro (San Man Lo 新馬路), the main avenue in the city centre, Leal Senado Square (Portuguese: Largo do Senado) is a living museum. It is part of the UNESCO listed “Historic Centre of Macau”.
Enclosed by pastel-coloured, neoclassical colonial architectures including the Holy House of Mercy, Macau Business Tourism Centre, Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau Building and the Central Post Office, Senado Square has been a civic hub for centuries and is still a favourite venue for celebrations.
Experts from Portugal paved the Square with an elegant wave pattern of black and white cobblestones that were imported from Portugal, exuding a Mediterranean atmosphere.
Built in 1587 by Spanish Dominican priests, St Dominic’s Church (at Senado Square) is also enlisted in the UNESCO World Heritage Site “Historic Centre of Macau”.
With 5-10 mins of walking from St Dominic’s Church, you can get to the Ruins of St Paul’s, undoubtedly the most iconic landmark of Macau.