YICHANG, China, June 7, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- Shennongjia Forestry District, named after Emperor Yan Shennong, who once devised a ladder for the collection of herbal plants, held a prayer ceremony on June 4 (lunar calendar: April 26) in celebration of the emperor's birthday. Nearly one thousand worshippers, including members of China's mainstream media, travel agency executives from all across China, one million bloggers, representative teachers and students from East China Normal University, athletes from the Loop the Lake Cycling Tour, representatives from Shennongjia's surrounding rural districts, tourists and local residents, participated in the ceremony.
At 9:39 am, prayer music sounded loudly. Guided by the emcee, the officiants and their entourage, wearing prayer belts, stepped into the plaza and approached Emperor Yan Shennong's statue, along with worshippers who had been at the front of the queue.
Then, the honor and ceremonial guards came into the plaza bringing three beasts of burden, five varieties of corn, fresh flowers and seasonal fruits as sacrificial items, while the officiants took turns burning incense and presenting flower baskets. Young women well acquainted with the ritual held the elegiac text in both hands and read it loudly amidst the solemn and quiet atmosphere, praising the emperor's great success as a founder of civilization and in providing a solid foundation for the country. After the loud music came to an end and total silence prevailed, the worshippers all took three deep bows following the emcee's call, as an expression of comfort for and consolation to the souls of the early ancestors.
These moments of reverence were followed by the Guanghua Qianqui dance, which brought the ceremony to its climax. Three dances expressing the coming into this world, the chaos that followed and the rescuing of people - dances that were interconnected with each other but each featuring their own characteristics, demonstrating the people's reverence for and glorification of the emperor for his work in finding hundreds of herbal plants with medicinal properties by tasting each one, identifying the five varieties of corn, differentiating the four seasons and pioneering the development of primitive agriculture and society.
Yan Shennong has made great contributions to the survival, procreation and development of the Chinese nation. The spirit of the great emperor is represented by an indomitable pioneering and enterprising spirit and sense of devotion that is constantly striving to better itself. His spirit allows each of the nation's many generations to acquire wisdom, overcome their original wild and untamed nature, constantly pursue progress and develop a rich civilization in the struggle to conquer nature and form a meaningful and functioning society.
The ceremony is designed so that worshippers can lend comfort and consolation to the souls of the early ancestors, cherish the memory of the great emperor's beneficence for tens of thousands of generations, and praise his great success in establishing the beginnings of a civilized society and laying the basic foundation for the country. The ceremony is held annually.
According to Shennong Tourism Investment Group, one of the organizers of the ceremony, and www.huway.com, a series of events in celebration of the wonder of nature as well as several tourism activities are to be held in Shennongjia during the month of June. In addition to the events in celebration and in reverence of the great emperor, much attention will be given to the opening ceremony of the eco-tour festival and the Loop the Dajiu Lake Cycling Tour, the gala entitled "The Beautiful Shennongjia; The Dreamlike Dajiu Lake", one million bloggers taking the seven-day trek through the uninhabited region surrounding Shennongjia, hundreds of media interviews on the ecological wonders of the region and the forum on the cultures of the local area.
Hubei province's Shennongjia Forestry District, based in the middle latitudes of the northern hemisphere, maintains a perfect ecological environment and is one of the major birthplaces of Chinese civilization. Shennongjia was named a national forest and wildlife natural protection area in 1986 and was accepted as a member of the Man and the Biosphere Programme's World Network of Biosphere Reserves by UNESCO in 1990, becoming an Asian biodiversity protection demonstration district funded by the Global Environment Facility. The district was also successively named as a National Forest Park, a National Wetland Park and a National Geological Park over the last few years. It was recognized as a national forest tourism demonstration area pilot in 2011 and one of the national 5A-level scenic areas in 2012.