Ngo boat race of the Khmer

(VOVWORLD) - The Khmer’s Ok-om-bok Festival ended with the Ngo boat race over the weekend. Scores of Ngo boats from southern provinces took part in the race in Soc Trang province, which drew thousands of spectators.
Ngo boat race of the Khmer - ảnh 1A Ngo boat race of the Khmer in Vietnam's southern region.


The Ngo boats are an important part of the religious life of the Khmer and are sacred assets of a pagoda and its village. Before the Ok-om-bok Festival, monks and villagers clean and repair their pagoda and prepare their boat for the race.

Pno Kanh Cho Thmay pagoda received 4,300 USD from local authorities and donations from Buddhist followers to build a new Ngo boat.

Son Kien, a member of the Management Board of the pagoda, said, “We feared the pagoda would not have enough volunteers to form a racing team. But the female villagers responded enthusiastically. They encouraged their husbands and sons to enter the race.”  

The Ngo boat race excites a boisterous atmosphere in every Khmer hamlet. A Ngo boat is about 30 meters long with a curved prow and stern. A racing team has 55 to 60 rowers.

Ngo boat race of the Khmer - ảnh 2The Ngo boat race is a highlight of the Khmer's Ok-om-bok Festival.

Weeks before the race, the young men gather for training on the river. Venerable Ly Den, Head of Chroy Tum Chas pagoda in Soc Trang province, said, “Ngo boat racing is a traditional sport of the Khmer. Pagodas recruit rowers and build or repair boats for the race. The Ok-om-bok Festival is the most enjoyable event of the year.”

Pno Kanh Cho Thmay pagoda in My Xuyên district is participating in its first Ngo race. Villagers crowd the pagoda yard to watch the rowers train. Rower Duong Quoc Ty said, “I have arranged my schedule so I can train with the team in the afternoon. It has been 45 years since the pagoda had a new boat. I’m very proud to be on this team. In the past I rowed for other teams. I’m very happy to compete.”  

In recent years the authorities have invested in promoteNgo boat racing in order to preserve the Khmer culture.

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