The ethic Khmer people in the southern province of Soc Trang are looking forward to their traditional Ok Om Bok festival from November 13-14, particularly the Ghe Ngo (Khmer boat) race.
According to Ly Binh Cang, Head of the provincial’s Ethnic Affairs Board, many boat rowing teams have been practicing for the race for over two months. The participation of many new and young rowers promises an exciting event, which is considered the key even of the festival.
The province will construct an extra stand of 300 seats, opposite to the main stand of 2,000 seats beside Maspero River, to better serve locals and visitors, thus promoting the largest festival of Khmer people.
It is noteworthy that a competition of repairing Ca Hau boats, which are used by pagodas to carry pagodas’ dignitaries, monks, organisation board members and food for rowers during Ghe Ngo races, will be held for the first time in 20 years.
Cang said the competition aims to teach young ethnics about Ca Hau boats, many of which have been damaged or discarded.
In addition, the organisation board has doubled prize value with the highest one worth VND100 million (US$4,494).
This year’s festival will see the competition of 50 boats of Soc Trang, which has the largest number of Ghe Ngo among Mekong Delta provinces, and other provinces such as Bac Lieu, Ca Mau, Hau Giang and Vinh Long.
Ok Om Bok (worshipping the moon) is one of the three main festivals of Khmer people – along with Sene Dolta and Chol Chnam Thmay – which takes place under the full moon in the 10th lunar month annually. The Khmer believe the moon is a God who controls the weather and crops throughout the year.
On this occasion, Khmer people provide offerings to thank the God’s blessing for favourable weather and their bountiful harvest.
The festival has been recognised as part of the National Intangible Cultural Heritage.VNA