Students of the Bachelor of Science in Cultural and Heritage Management programme at the Macao Institute for Tourism Studies (IFTM) recently participated in the local intangible cultural heritage festival, the Macao Festival of the Drunken Dragon, to experience and learn the atmosphere and values of the traditional festival as volunteers.
The Macao Feast of the Drunken Dragon and the Lion Dance Gala is a traditional folk custom in Macao. It is an annual event organised and celebrated among fishmongers, and was successfully listed in the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Macao and the National Representative List of Intangible Heritage Projects in 2009 and 2011, respectively. The event is organised by the Associação dos Comerciantes de Peixe Fresco de Macau, representing seven local markets located on the Macao Peninsula: Complexo Municipal do Mercado de S. Domingos, Complexo Municipal do Mercado de S. Lourenço, Mercado Municipal do Bairro Iao Hon, Mercado Provisório do Mercado Vermelho, Mercado Municipal Horta da Mitra, Complexo Municipal do Mercado de Tamagini Barbosa, and Mercado Municipal do Patane.
On the night of the seventh day of the lunar calendar of April, Macao fishmongers gather with friends, families, and volunteers to enjoy a Dragon Boat Rice traditional gathering dinner – ‘Poon Choi’ (Basin Meal) in front of their markets. During the banquet, Macao fishmongers and performers perform the drunken dragon dance and conduct a ritual ceremony. On the eighth day of April, the Association’s members gather in front of the Pagode Sam Cai Vu Cun, where they perform Taoist rituals, a Drunken Dragon and Lion Dance Parade, and distribute Longevity Rice for free in each market, symbolising the spirit of “selflessness”, “dedication”, “gratitude”, and “unity”.
Ms. Kate Kwan, an IFTM alumna of Bachelor of Science in Tourism Business Management, who is also the coordinator of this year’s event, has been sharing the origin, inheritance, and conservation of this traditional festival with many students from various disciplines for long. This year, she successfully engaged 17 undergraduate students from IFTM to this meaningful event. The students are mainly from the Cultural and Heritage Management, Tourism Business Management, and Tourism Retail and Marketing Management degree programmes. They actively served as volunteers to this event while helped preparing for the Free Longevity Rice Distribution at the Mercado Provisório do Mercado Vermelho. The students experienced and deepened their understanding of the festive atmosphere and culture through volunteering. They realised the significance of festivals as a community-based practice, inheritance, and deeply felt the social values and cohesive forces of this traditional folk custom. The students unanimously expressed that such practical activities enabled them to deeply penetrate and experience local traditional customs in the community, as well as enriching their knowledge and memories. Students also expressed their willingness to participate again next year.
This festival also gained support from the active participation by the IFTM faculty members and scholars. Through working within the community, both teachers and students can fully experience the uniqueness and value of this tradition regarding its role in representing Macao’s intangible heritage.