|Sun Xuetao, secretary of the Longnan city Party committee speaks at the Fifth China (Xihe) Qiqiao Cultural Summit Forum, August 7, 2013. (Source: China.org.cn)
BEIJING, Aug. 8 (Xinhuanet) -- The Fifth China (Xihe) Qiqiao Cultural Summit Forum took place in Beijing on Wednesday and discussed China's Qiqiao Festival, also called Girls' Festival, and its assets in cultural protection and development.
Qiqiao, an ancient cultural event hailing from Gansu Province's Longnan region in central China, is one of the most legendary traditional Chinese celebrations because of its spatiotemporal power and profound folk culture connotation. Qiqiao is a festival for girls to honor the goddess of Queen of Skills, entertain themselves and exchange life skills. The festival can be considered an accumulation of heavy aesthetic psychology and traditional Chinese virtues, similar to the worship of Athena in ancient Greece.
Sun Xuetao, secretary of the Longnan city Party committee, said in his opening speech that the summit is a positive response to the UN Women's advocacy for gender equality and the empowerment of women, the Chinese government's promotion of female causes, the construction of cultural heritage and innovation, as well as the protection of intangible cultural heritage.
"Qiqiao culture helps improve women's life quality and social status," Sun said, "To promote gender equality, maintain women's interests and help women live a better happier life, is the ultimate goal of the Qiqiao culture. We hope that China's Qiqiao Festival can be a medium to carry on women's wisdom, skills and virtues. We hope the festival can become a lecture on how to establish dignity, confidence, independence and self-improvement; help women develop themselves to the fullest."
Julia T. Broussard, the UN Women Country Programme Manager, also said at the summit that Qiqiao is mainly a girls' festival. "Girls will be mature women in the future and the festival can prepare them," Broussard said, "The festival and summit brought attention to the multiple social roles women have played, and reminded us of the long path ahead of us despite the big improvements in gender equality and female empowerment. We can discuss how to overcome the difficulties which still exist so that we can ensure the current girls and future women will be treated the same as the men when they grow up."
"I hope that one day, all women from Longnan and even the whole of China, will have big ambitions and work hard to become Nobel-winning scientists, CEOs of big corporations and even president of the nation. For me, that is the ultimate meaning of Qiqiao," Broussard added.
Qiqiao beats all other festivals nationwide in terms of history, the quality of its singing and dancing performances, the sincerity of its participants, the unity of its different events, and its number of participants. The festival is known as the "living fossil" of ancient Chinese customs.
Qiqiao starts on the eve of the first day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar and ends on the night of the seventh day of the seventh month. It is a comprehensive seasonal festivity incorporating tributes to the goddess, poetry, music, dancing, handicrafts and fine art.
The festival offers young girls an opportunity to express and appreciate beauty in all its forms and shapes, which promotes the harmony in both families and neighborhoods. As a result, the Qiqiao Festival plays a positive role in both the girls' healthy road to adulthood as well as the construction of a harmonious society.
Ethnic, cultural and religious experts, archaeologists and scholars attended the summit and conducted discussions about how to explore the festival in particular and culture in general. The summit is part of 10 celebratory activities held in honor of the Qiqiao Festival, including musical creations, singing and dancing performances, short film productions, cartoon creations and the publishing of academic works.