Thousands flock to a Khmer ox race at temple in south Vietnam

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Wild ride: The race is always thrilling. Viet Thanh/ Viet Nam newS

Vietnam News/ANN: THE annual ox racing festival at Ro temple in Vietnam is a popular event for both locals and tourists. This year’s edition, which took place on October 14-15, gathered 25 pairs of strong oxen from all over Tinh Bien district.

Tinh Bien is a rural district of An Giang Province in the Mekong Delta region of Vietnam, an area known to Cambodians as Kampuchea Krom. The ethnic Khmer who live there are referred to in Cambodia as Khmer Kampuchea Krom.

Tinh Bien is located around 125km from Phnom Penh. It is a common route used by tourists between Cambodia and Vietnam.

And thousands of tourists – and locals – flocked to the site, including hundreds of photographers from all over Vietnam. It is no longer just a traditional festival for Khmer people, but also a fun opportunity for all.

Local temples often host community events like boat and ox races during the Khmer festivals of Ok Om Bok and Sen Donta.

The ox race originated from Khmer people’s love for working and open minds. According to old monks, the event started a long time ago when local young people brought their oxen to work on the temple’s paddy fields.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
According to the monks at Ro temple, the tradition of its annual ox race originates from playful competition among young workers. Viet Thanh/ Viet Nam news

They organised an ox race to create a fun, competitive atmosphere at work to boost efficiency. Soon after, monks started giving out simple awards to encourage the races. Gradually, the ox race has become one of the most anticipated events of the year for locals.

Kampuchea Krom refers to an area of 89,000sq km around modern day Saigon and the Mekong Delta, which used to be the southeasternmost territory of the Khmer Empire until its incorporation into Vietnam in the early 18th century.

According to Vietnamese government figures (2009 census), there are 1,260,640 Khmer Kampuchea Krom in Vietnam.