The Ngo boat race on Long Binh river of Tra Vinh province (Photo: VNA)
 
Tra Vinh (VNA) – A Ngo boat race (similar to the sport of dragon boating) took place on Long Binh river of the Mekong Delta province of Tra Vinh on November 21, part of the traditional Ooc Om Bok Festival of the Khmer people.

The race drew the participation of eight teams from Duyen Hai, Tieu Can, Cau Ke, Chau Thanh, Tra Cu, Cau Ngang, and Cang Long districts, and Tra Vinh city. The teams, all from Tra Vinh province, competed in three distances of 800m, 600m, and 500m. 

The Cang Long district team, which is Tra Vinh’s representative in regional boat racing competitions, exhibited its dominance in the sport by winning gold medals in all three categories.

Director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports, and Tourism Duong Hoang Sum said the Ngo boat race is among the traditional activities of the Khmer people in the annual Ooc Om Bok Festival. 

The race conveyed the unity of the Khmer culture, one of the characteristic traits in Vietnam’s southern region and Tra Vinh province in particular, he added.

In addition to the Ngo boat race, traditional art performances and other sports events are also being held during a culture-tourism week and cuisine festival in the Ooc Om Bok Festival in Tra Vinh, which runs until November 22. 

Tra Vinh is home to over 300,000 Khmer ethnic residents, accounting for nearly 32 percent of the local population. The province boasts 142 Khmer Theravada Buddhist temples. 

Ooc Om Bok is one of three main festivals, along with Sene Dolta and Chol Chnam Thmay which the Khmer people celebrate every year. It has been recognised as a national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

The festival, also called the Festival of Moon Worship, begins around 7-8 pm on the evening of the 14th day of the 10th lunar month when the moon’s position is high in the sky. Khmer people celebrate outdoors or at Khmer pagodas, praying for good luck, happiness, good weather, and bumper crops. –VNA