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Grand ritual held in tribute to ancestors
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The small city of Xinzheng in Central China's Henan Province is in the spotlight when it presents the "2008 Ancestor Worshipping Ceremony in the Birthplace of the Yellow Emperor" Tuesday morning.

Olympic champions take part in the worshipping ceremony for the Yellow Emperor in Xinzheng, Central China's Henan Province, Arpil 8, 2008. The theme of this year's ceremony is "Building a spiritual homeland and praying for the Beijing Olympics". [Xinhua]


Xinzheng, a county-level city in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan, is the birthplace of the Yellow Emperor (Huang Di), who is widely recognized as a common ancestor of all Han Chinese. The tradition of worshipping ancestors on the mythical leader's birthday, which is on March 3 according to the lunar calendar and falls on April 8 this year, dates back to the Spring and Autumn Period (BC770-BC476).

Tuesday's rain does not dampen participants' enthusiasm. A total of 20,000 participants, including overseas Chinese, swarm the square watched over by the emperor's statue to pay respect by performing ancient rituals.

The third annual event featured fireworks, flower offerings, incense and ancient traditional dances. Participants chant odes and pray.

Zhou Tienong, vice-chairman of the 11th National People's Congress Standing Committee and  Huang Mengfu, vice-chairman of the 11th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee presented flowers and paid homage at the statue of the Yellow Emperor.

Yok Mu-ming, Taiwan's New Party Chairman, and Wang Jinping, chairman of Taiwan Alliance for the Reunification of China, offer the incense on behalf of Taiwan compatriots.

The legend has it that the Yellow Emperor invented the cart, boat, bow and arrow, as well as traditional Chinese medicine.

Participants wait in the rain before the opening of the worshipping ceremony in Xinzheng, Henan Province April 8, 2008. [chinadaily.com.cn/Xie Jingwei]

As this year coincides with the Beijing Olympics, the theme of the ceremony is "Building a spiritual homeland and praying for the Beijing Olympics".  A total of 29 former Olympic champions were invited to the ritual to bless the upcoming Beijing Olympic Games.

"It is very unusual to see so many Olympic champions at a non-sport event, and this is a spotlight of this year's ceremony," said Li Ping, a liaison officer of the event's news center.

The champions include Xu Haifeng, winner of China's first Olympic gold and now the head coach of the Chinese shooting team, and Henan native Deng Yaping, a table tennis legend.

Other champions are Xiong Ni, Sun Fuming, Tao Luna, Liang Yan, Hou Yuzhu, Li Yanjun, Wu Shude, Chen Weiqiang, Li Yuwei, Chen Longcan, Qian Hong, Zhuang Xiaoyan, Yang Ling, Li Duihong, Gong Zhichao, Gu Jun, Wang Liping, Li Na, Tang Lin, Chen Xiaomin, Zheng Lihui, Li Ting, Wang Meng and Han Xiaopeng.

Each champion hung a prayer card on the banyan tree, a symbol of the holy, the auspicious, and the noble, to wish a good luck to the Games.

By the end of the ceremony, participants in the event witness the grand moment when respect is paid to the sacred fire altar before the Yellow Emperor's sculpture and then colorful flags dropped to bring the curtain down of the ceremony.

The cultural event has also become a local economic growth engine. According to statistics from Zhengzhou Tourism Bureau, Xinzheng's tourism income saw a 50 percent year-on-year rise in March, 2006, when the first Yellow Emperor worshiping ceremony was kicked off.

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