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Legendary King Commemorated in Zhejiang

"We are rather happy to be gathering together again today," said 62-year-old Si Guantao, a descendant of Dayu, the first king of China's Xia Dynasty (21st century - 16th century BC).

The descendants were meeting yesterday for a memorial ceremony to honor Dayu in Shaoxing, Zhejiang Province.

A total of 115 of Dayu's descendants from home and overseas attended the memorial ceremony at Kuaiji Mountain, where Dayu was buried.

All of them have the same name - Si, the surname of their famous ancestor.

Dayu, born in 2126 BC, is considered by many as an important ancestor of Chinese people.

When Dayu was still a child, China was affected by a severe flood.

His father was appointed by the then King Shun to tackle the disaster, but when he failed he was exiled.

Later Dayu was also assigned by the king to deal with the flood. It took him 13 years to solve the problem.

After that, the king handed over his throne to Dayu.

Dayu is also credited with creating the lunar calendar and making the first topographical survey of China.

In 1995, Shaoxing city government launched its first ceremony to honor Dayu.

The event, is held annually on the fifth day of the third month of the lunar calendar, because it is believed to have been Dayu's birthday.

Around 800 people attended the first ceremony in 1995, but that number has increased to 3,000.

The ceremony is arranged according to ancient rituals, with visitors asked to wear traditional clothes.

At yesterday's ceremony, youngsters carried tributes and wine to an altar accompanied by traditional music.

Finally, top officials honored Dayu at the altar.

Visitors this year included Han Qide, vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress; Zhou Guofu, the deputy Party secretary in Zhejiang; and Wang Yongchang, Party secretary of Shaoxing.

Zhang Jinru, mayor of Shaoxing, made the elegiac address.

The ceremony ended with an ancient dance performed by youngsters in traditional costumes.

"To hold such a memorial ceremony is to continue the good cultural traditions of the nation," said Xi Jinping, Party secretary of Zhejiang.

"We hope more Chinese will come to commemorate Dayu and remember what he did for us," Si Guantao added.

(China Daily April 3, 2006)

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