XI'AN - More than 8,000 Chinese from home and abroad gathered Friday morning at the tomb of Huangdi, the legendary "Yellow Emperor" who is considered the common ancestor of all Chinese.
The memorial ceremony started in Huangling County, Shaanxi Province at 9:50 a.m. That's an auspicious time because of the digits' association with the imperial line in ancient Chinese culture. The number nine is the biggest single-digit number, while five lies in the middle.
A drum was struck 34 times, once for each of China's 34 provinces, municipalities, autonomous regions and special administrative regions.
Yuan Chunqing, the governor of Shaanxi, delivered an memorial speech.
"May the Olympics promote the Chinese spirit. May the Chinese mainland and Taiwan reunite soon," he read. The address was followed by traditional dances in tribute to the Yellow Emperor.
Hua Jianmin, the vice-chairman of the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC), Zhang Rongming, the vice-chairwoman of the 11th National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Gu Xiulian, the president of the All-China Women's Federation and Edmund Ho Hau Wah, the Chief Executive of the Macao Special Administrative Region, also took part in the ceremony.
The Yellow Emperor, a sovereign and cultural hero in Chinese mythology, is believed to have reigned from 2,697 BC to 2,598 BC. Although he was an actual ruler, his deeds have been embellished with time: for example, he has been credited with introducing the systems of government and law to human kind, civilizing the Earth, teaching people many skills and inventing all manner of items.
China has commemorated the Yellow Emperor since the Spring and Autumn Period around 8 BC.
"Kindred or family lines are especially honored in Chinese culture," said Zhang Jingkui, a former professor at Xiamen University who now lives in Hong Kong. "Each spring when smoke from joss sticks rises in Chinese communities around the world, it is a unique event."
Chen Shaochun, with the veterans' association of Taoyuan county, Taiwan, left his hometown in Xingping, Shaanxi in 1949.
Recalling his first return visit to his hometown in 1985, Chen noted that it was a difficult journey. "I had to travel by way of Japan," he said.