Thousands of spectators on either banks of the Hau River, a tributary of the Mekong, cheered wildly as some 50 teams from several Mekong Delta provinces vied with each other to win the Ngo Boat Race held in Soc Trang Province yesterday.
|Neck and neck: The Ngo long boat racing in Soc Trang Province yesterday|
The teams from Soc Trang, Bac Lieu, Hau Giang and Kien Giang participated in the 1,000m race for women and 1,200m race for men. The boat races were major highlights of this year’s Oc Om Boc Festival.
The festival, celebrated by the Khmer ethnic community in Soc Trang, worships the moon god.
Superior Buddhist Monk Tang No of the Khleang Pagoda in Soc Trang City said the Oc Om Boc Festival thanks the moon god for bringing in good crops and abundant fish in the river and for maintaining the health of all the villagers.
He said prayers are offered to the moon deity, seeking her blessings so that she showers devotees with good health, prosperity and happiness.
As the full moon appears on the night of the festival, people place trays of offerings in the pagoda’s yard or at their homes. The offerings include green rice flakes, ripe bananas, coconuts and mangoes.
At the end of the ceremony, the children of the house sit on the ground and clap their hands while they are fed a handful of green rice flakes by the elders. The most colourful event of the festival is the flying of paper lanterns and floating of candles on banana tree rafts in the river. This ritual is believed to sweep away the darkness and humidity of the rainy season, Monk Tang No said.
In addition to the Ngo long boat racing, this year’s festival also included sports competitions and Khmer music shows.
Over 200 stalls at the Oc Om Boc Trade-Tourism Fair 2012, which was held at the Ho Nuoc Ngot Exhibition Centre in Soc Trang between November 22 and 28, displayed and sold farm produce, seafood, processed food and many other consumer goods.
Tourism services and products from Soc Trang and other Mekong Delta provinces were also on display that attracted thousands of visitors each day.
The Oc Om Boc Festival is being celebrated from November 25 to 30 this year.
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