THE lotus flower is synonymous with summer. Thick green leaves inlaid with white or pink flowers carpet lakes, and farmers paddling small wooden boats move among the leaves, plucking lotus seeds.
This is Xinbang Town, where the annual lotus festival has begun and will run through August 11. The town is the biggest lotus flower-breeding center in eastern China.
This year, lotus cover almost 66.7 hectares, including 13.2 hectares in the Bellaway Spa Resort, 10 hectares in the Lotus Commune, 6.7 hectares in the Ya Garden, 8.4 hectares along Yexin Road, 4.9 hectares along the Xucun Road and half a hectare at Fishing Port.
Lotus breeds are multiple, from basic water lilies to seedy lotus and the hua lotus. Water lilies alone come in more than 50 varieties and are the second most common in China.
In addition to lotus, the festival features 11,500 potted bonsai plants and 33 breeds of other flowers.
Bellaway Spa Resort is the main venue of the festival. The resort sponsors a lotus food festival, offering cuisine using the flowers or its parts. All diners at the resort get a free bowl of cool, refreshing lotus root pudding.
Dovetailing with the World Cup games in Brazil, the festival is offering barbequed food served amid screens airing the matches. Customers who post lotus pictures on WeChat are given small gifts.
In the Ya Garden, visitors can participate in a crayfish angling competition. Crayfish are an extremely popular freshwater delicacy among locals in the summer. The dishes are served with different flavors of lotus tea.
There’s also a lotus photography contest, with a free night’s accommodation in the garden among the prizes.
Fishing Port is offering its traditional spring chicken banquet. The food is served with fresh fruits and vegetables from local farms.
Xinbang, located in southwestern Songjiang, is an agricultural center boasting clean water, fresh air and fertile land.
The town’s association with lotus dates back more than 1,500 years. Nestled amid rivers and canals, the town’s name derives from its geographic similarity to the shape of a lotus leaf.
During the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), local farmers planted lotus in the town’s crisscrossing waterways. The locality became known as the “hometown of lotus.”