Khmer people are living in great number in Mekong delta region, especially in Tra Vinh, Soc Trang, Vinh Long, Bac Lieu, An Giang. In their culture, festivals are inseparable part of their daily life. Every year, many community activities with different special meanings take place. Bay Nui’s Cow racing in An Giang is one of the two most distinctive festivals of them are Ok Om Bok and Bay Nui’s cow racing (An Giang).
If Ok Om Bok is about thankfulness to the heaven and earth that give us water and food, cow racing festival of Khmer in Tinh Bien (Tri Ton, An Giang) is a sport event at Dolta occasion whose meaning is thankfulness towards ancestors.
One legend goes like this: At Dolta, the men in the village brought a couple of cows to plough the field for the monks. After ploughing, the cows were chosen to race each other. Gradually, this tradition has become a sport event attracting many visitors. Arriving in An Giang on the late September, visitors will see the excitement in every village. People who take part in the racing have spent the whole year to choose the strongest and healthiest cows for the competition. The flat rice field is where the race takes place. Both sides are built up a little higher to protect the audience and keep the cows in line. Two cows are randomly selected to race with each other until there are 4 couples of cow to compete for the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th prize.
At the competition, people bring the drums and holler to cheer for the racing. After the start signal, the cows are pushed to run forward. They seem to get excited by the cheerfulness of the crowd as well. The atmosphere is getting tenser and tenser when the race is near the final rounds.
For many years, cow racing festival has been attracted many farmers in An Giang province and even other farmers from Cambodia as well. This unique event also draws many domestic and international travelers to come here. The race becomes an interesting and healthy activity. The winner cows will be take care of and fattened up, ready to come back for the next year’s competition.
Bay Nui’s cow racing fesival is one of the cannot-be-missed festivals for those who are enjoying fascinating trip in Mekong Delta Vietnam.