Running with the oxen, a Khmer tradition

By Huynh Phuong, Henry Ta   September 27, 2019 | 12:11 pm GMT+7

An oxen race held in the Mekong Delta province of An Giang is part of an ancestor honoring festival of the Khmer people.

Many Khmer, an ethnic minority in Vietnam, gathered in exuberance to celebrate the festival on the rice field behind Ro temple in Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province from last Saturday till Tuesday.The Sene Dolta festival is a major event of the Khmer when they honor their ancestors through traditional rituals and social activities. Sene Dolta takes place from the 29th day of the eight month to the first day of the 9th month in the Khmer’s lunar calendar. This year the festival sees the competition between 24 buffalo racing teams. In the picture, the buffalos are numbered and aligned to get ready for the race.

Thousands of Khmer people recently gathered in a festive mood at the rice fields behind the Ro Pagoda in Tinh Bien District, An Giang Province. The Sene Dolta Festival is a major event for the Khmer, a time when the ethnic minority group honor their ancestors with traditional rituals and social activities, including the oxen race.

The festival annually takes place from the 29th day of the eighth month to the first day of the nineth month in the Khmer’s lunar calendar. This year, 24 teams participated in the oxen race. The picture shows the teams getting ready for the race.

Some buffalos are decorated with a checked scarf, an iconic accessory of Southern Vietnamese people’s attire. The buffalos entered in the contest this year are neck-to-neck.

Some oxen are decorated with a checked scarf, an iconic accessory of southern Vietnamese people’s attire. The oxen entered in the contest this year are neck-to-neck.

A Khmer coordinator makes beads of sweat making sure the buffalos ready for the race.

A coordinator concentrates on making sure the oxen ready for the race.

Four buffalos blow towards the destination in cheering spectators and roaring festive music. 

Two pairs of oxen race towards their destination to the cheers of spectators and loud festive music.

The Khmer believe that the winning buffalos in the race bring joy and good luck for a fruitful harvesting season. The winning buffalos are not sold but carefully kept as a prized asset of the family who own them.

The Khmer believe that the winning oxen will bring joy and good luck with a fruitful harvest. The winning oxen are not sold but cared for as prized assets by the family who own them.

A Khmer boy glues his eyes to the race at the festival.

A Khmer boy watches the race intently.

The festival attracts a flock of photographers to capture the dramatic twists and turns of the race.This years festival was considered a success thanks to the month-long preparation of the local government, monks of Ro temple and other stakeholders. It also received support from many donors in honor of the local culture preservation.

The festival in general and the race in particular attract a flock of photographers every year. This year’s festival celebration was considered a success, thanks to the month-long preparations by the local government, monks at the Ro Pagoda and other stakeholders. It received support from many donors willing to contribute to preserving the local culture.

Buffalos are not the only racers in the festival where many kids play tag along the rice field.

Oxen were not the only racers in the festival. They were pursued in right earnest by many kids having a fun time with a race of their own.

After the bull race which took place in the morning till noon on the water field, the monks of Ro temple (at the back) and some farmers plant rice on the same field.

After the oxen race which took place from the morning till noon, monks of Ro Pagoda (seen in the picture) and some farmers planted rice on the field tilled by the oxen by participating in the race.

A close-up look of the monks planting new rice.

Novice monks plant new rice where the oxen race was held.

A group of youngsters also join the planting, together pulling the plow on the water field.

A group of children pull a plow in the water logged rice field.

 
 
go to top