The Oc Om Boc Festival of the Khmer ethnic people is set to unfold next week in the Mekong Delta province of Soc Trang, southern Vietnam, promising a jubilant celebration marked by an array of festive activities, with a spotlight on traditional boat races.
The Oc Om Boc, or the moon worshipping festival, is an annual event joyously observed by the Khmer ethnic community around the 15th day, or the full-moon period, of the tenth lunar month, after the harvest season.
It is one of the three major festivals that Khmer people celebrate every year, along with the traditional New Year Festival Chol Chnam Thmay and the Sene Dolta for remembering ancestors.
This year, the extravaganza will be organized in the province’s Soc Trang City from Monday next week through November 27, Tran Minh Ly, director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, said at a press conference on Friday.
The festival will commence with the Moon Worshiping Ceremony, followed by a showcase featuring the release of water lights and traditional Ca Hau boats.
Additionally, there will be trade promotion fairs spotlighting local products and regional specialties, a street food festival, an art photo exhibition, a singing competition, and a trade conference aimed at connecting the supply and demand of goods.
“During the festival, April 30 Park in Soc Trang City will host a Guinness Vietnam record attempt for the largest painting made from the renowned ST rice varieties of Vietnam on the afternoon of November 22 ,” Ly announced.
|Huynh Thi Diem Ngoc, deputy chairwoman of the People's Committee of Soc Trang Province, speaks at a press conference for the upcoming Oc Om Boc Festival, November 17, 2023. Photo: Khac Tam / Tuoi Tre|
The week-long fest will be wrapped up with the Ngo (Khmer) boat races, which are recognized as national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, on the Maspero River on November 26 and 27.
Forty-six male and female teams from both inside and outside Soc Trang Province will compete at distances of 1,200m and 1,000m, respectively, using Ngo boats -- a special boat made of wood -- representing one or more Khmer villages.
The boats are decorated with images of dragons, tigers, elephants, lions, and peacocks to show their power.
The prize structure is highly enticing, with the men’s first prize set at VND200 million (US$8,242), followed by VND150 million ($6,181) for the second prize, VND100 million ($4,121) for the third prize, and VND80 million ($3,296) for the fourth prize.
The women’s prizes include VND150 million for the first prize, VND100 million for the second prize, and VND80 million for the third prize.
Soc Trang is home to the largest number of Khmer people in Vietnam with more than 400,000, making up 31 percent of the provincial population, according to the Vietnam News Agency.