Traditional Mekong Delta boat race a riot of Khmer colors

By Huynh Phuong   November 3, 2020 | 04:14 pm GMT+7
A traditional boat race, part of the Khmer people's Ok-Om-Bok Festival in Soc Trang Province, riled up the Mekong Delta waters with cheers and garish hues.
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At 12 p.m. last Friday, 47 teams from across southern provinces gathered on Mapesro River in Soc Trang Town, capital of the eponymous province, to compete in the Ghe Ngo (Khmer long boat) race. A total 42 male groups vied over 1,200 meters while five female teams competed across 1,000 meters to the thumping of gongs and cheering of spectators.
First organized in 2013, the Khmer boat race has become a signature Mekong Delta event and indispensable to Ok-om-Bok celebrations, which fall on the 15th day of the 10th lunar month (October 31 this year). It is a time for the Khmer to show their gratitude to the Moon Goddess for bumper harvests and aquatic surplus.

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A team from PonoRoca Pagoda in Chau Thanh District spent most of October gearing up for the festival race.

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Members of Chroi Tum Chas Pagoda in Soc Trang Town practiced come rain or shine on October 18.

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Ghe Ngo boats undergo a special veneration, or Pithi Sene Kbal Tuok ceremony at a Khmer pagoda prior to the festival.

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Mapesro River is doused in vivid colors during the race day.

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Khmer monks closely follow the final race on October 31.

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The male teams of Tum Nup Pagoda in Chau Thanh District and Om Pou Yea Pagoda in My Xuyen District of Soc Trang Province compete in the final round, with the former, kitted out in green, clinching the honors.

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The Tum Nup Pagoda team cheers after receiving the championship cup and VND150 million ($6,500) prize.

 
 
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