Local Events

Ghe Ngo Festival – An Giang province

According to the Khmer people, the 15th day of the tenth lunar month marks the end of their year. Khmer people in Vietnam’s southern Mekong Delta celebrate this event with ceremonies, feasts and Ngo boat races.

On the Khmer New Year’s Eve, villagers gather in the grounds of their local pagoda, in a treeless area. The moon is invited to watch the ceremonies, which begin with the construction of a bamboo archway, decorated with leaves and flowers. Beneath this arch stands a table on which villagers place offerings of bananas, coconuts, sweet potatoes, cassava and, most importantly, new sticky rice.

When the moon appears, an old man lights incense and candles and prays to the Moon Deity. Following this prayer, children kneel and raise their clasped hands to the moon. The host of the ceremony places chunks of sticky rice in the children’s mouths, pats them on the back and tells them to make a wish. These wishes are said to foreshadow the fate of the community in the coming year.

Following this ceremony, the festivities begin. Lantern-rockets, made of paper and powered by burning oil, careen into the air. Candles are lit and the dripping wax, collected on banana leaves, is used to predict the weather. Rafts made of banana leaves are released on canals. And like at all successful festivals, the rice wine flows freely.

The following day features Ghe Ngo (Ngo boat) races. The long, slim boats, often made from the hollowed-out trunk of a Sao tree, each hold about 50 men. Prior to the race, people place incense and candles on the boats and, accompanied by a traditional orchestra of gongs, perform various ceremonies to choose the boats’ captain and crew. One man is chosen to sit on the prow, where he will pray to the gods and entertain the rowers. The races themselves are thrilling, as the rowers push themselves to the limit, encouraged by the jubilant cheers of the crowd.

 

Ox – Race Festival of the Khmer Ethnic Group – An Giang province

Ox-race is a typical sport of the Kho-Me ethnics in Bay Nui – An Giang province. It is organized at (Don Ta) Festival from the 9th to 10th of October every year. Don Ta is a traditional great festival of the Khmer to commemorate their forefathers.

the festival, the Khme drift paper boats, organize x-race. Before the race, a large area is chosen, (200 in long, 100 in wide, with some water) and plowed and harrowed to make it slippery. The area is protected by low walls, there are safety gates for oxen. The race-way is 120 in long, close to the walls. Starting-point is fixed with two flags. The oxen that start from which color have to arrive at the same one. Before the race, the owners agree and draw lots to decide the regulations. During the race, the oxen that do not follow the race-way are decided to lose and those that step op the scaffolding of others are decided to win, the owner has to stand firm, if he falls down from their scaffolding, he is decided to lose.

Before the race, the couples of oxen have to run round the ground twice to the starting-point, the owner, with 3cm long rod, touches the ox, getting pained, the oxen run forwards. The faster the speed, the more interesting is the race. Unlike the horse-race, in horse-race, a man on the horse back and the man to win is the first arrival. The race starts in the early morning, the locals arrive at the point earlier. Distant people come from the day before, they bring with them food, foodstuffs only to enjoy the whole race. There are no seats for spectators, only a place to stand. The ground is crowded, shouting, hand-clapping is heard all the time, especially at heart-breaking, moments.

An Giang, a land of beautiful landscapes and historic relics of which ox-race is typical one, not only for the Khmer ethnics, but for the whole community.

 

Ba Chua Xu Festival – An Giang province

The festival of Ba Chua Xu (also called the Via Ba Ceremony) is held annually from the 23rd night to the 27th day of the 4th lunar month. To go to the festival, head along Road No.10 from Long Xuyen to Chau Doc. Sam Mountain is 5 kilometers away from Chau Doc. Also, one can take the waterway from Can Tho to Soc Trang, or from Saigon directly.

On the night of April 23rd, there is a bathing and changing of robes ceremony for the statue of Ba Chua. The bathing water is scented and Ba Chua’s old clothes are cut into small pieces to distribute to visitors and pilgrims. The small pieces of clothes are considered lucky, keeping one in good health and driving away evil spirits.

After this ceremony is the Tue Yet Rite, which starts at midnight on the 25th and continues into the early morning of the 26th. This rite petitions Ba Chua’s nomination to the heavens with an imposing procession of dragon dances. The Imperial Sedan Chair is taken to Thoai Ngoc Hau Tomb for a chanting ritual before being taken back to the shrine of Ba Chua.