The Khmer ethnic community in the southern province of Soc Trang these days are jubilantly celebrating their traditional Ooc Om Bok festival, which worships the Moon deity for bumper crops.

The Head of the province’s Committee for Ethnic Affairs, Duong Sa Kha, said adding to the festive atmosphere is the joy from the bumper crops the local people have just harvested.

In addition, hundreds of poor Khmer households who have been given land for housing and farming before the festive season approached.

The Ooc Om Bok festival, one of the three biggest annual festivals of the Khmer group, is celebrated in the middle of the tenth lunar month, this year falling on Nov. 19-21.

Besides a tourism and trade exhibition and fair, lasting from Nov. 12-21, a music performance contest and Khmer traditional costume show with more than 300 amateur artists participating from Nov. 17-20, the organisers also restored the Loy Protip (floating lights on the water) festival. Eight big lights made in various shapes such as Khmer pagodas, Buddha statues and flowers made by teams of districts and towns were floated on a 500m section of the Nguyet Giang (Moon) river for competition.

The peak of the festival days is the Ngo boat race festival, which attracts dozens of thousands of people from every corner nationwide and also foreigners. On Nov. 20-21, more than 2,000 rowers on 34 Ngo boats for men and 7 Ngo boats for women competed with hope to “bring water” to their hamlets.

In preparation for the race, many Ngo boats, each costs hundreds of millions of Vietnamese dongs, were made. A new race course with a 4,000-seat stand was built with an investment capital of 60 billion VND from the province’s budget./.