The Oc Om Boc festival, also known as the moon worshiping festival, is a yearly celebration that brings joy to the Khmer ethnic community. It takes place around the 15th day of the tenth lunar month, which is the full-moon period after the harvest season.
This festival is one of the three major celebrations that the Khmer people observe every year. The other two are the traditional New Year festival called Chol Chnam Thmay and the Sene Dolta festival, which is held to honor ancestors.
This year, the festival will be held in Soc Trang City in the province starting from Monday next week until November 27. Tran Minh Ly, the director of the provincial Department of Culture, Sports and Tourism, made the announcement during a press conference on Friday.
The festival will begin with the Moon Worshiping Ceremony, followed by a show featuring the release of water lights and traditional Ca Hau boats.
In addition to these events, there will be trade promotion fairs showcasing local products and regional specialties, a street food festival, an art photo exhibition, a singing competition, and a trade conference aimed at connecting supply and demand for goods.
During the festival, there will also be an attempt to set a Guinness World Record for the largest painting made from the famous ST rice varieties of Vietnam. This event will take place in April 30 Park in Soc Trang City on the afternoon of November 22,” Ly announced.
|Huynh Thi Diem Ngoc, deputy chairwoman of the People’s Committee of Soc Trang Province, speaks at a press conference for the upcoming Oc Om Boc Festival, November 17, 2023. Photo: Khac Tam / Tuoi Tre
The week-long festival will conclude with the Ngo (Khmer) boat races, which have been recognized as national intangible cultural heritage by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism. These races will take place on the Maspero River on November 26 and 27.
A total of forty-six male and female teams from Soc Trang Province and other areas will compete in races covering distances of 1,200m and 1,000m, respectively, using Ngo boats. These special wooden boats represent one or more Khmer villages and are adorned with images of dragons, tigers, elephants, lions, and peacocks to display their power.
The prizes for the boat races are quite attractive. The first prize for the men’s category is set at VND200 million (US$8,242), followed by VND150 million ($6,181) for the second prize, VND100 million ($4,121) for the third prize, and VND80 million ($3,296) for the fourth prize.
As for the women’s category, the first prize is VND150 million, the second prize is VND100 million, and the third prize is VND80 million.
Soc Trang Province is home to the largest number of Khmer people in Vietnam, with over 400,000 residents, accounting for 31 percent of the province’s population, according to the Vietnam News Agency.