Cultural beauty of Ok Om Bok festival

Along with Chol Chnam Thmay, Sene Dolta, Ok Om Bok is one of three traditional festivals of the Khmer people, recognized as a national intangible cultural heritage. This festival is culture-rich for the Khmer people, conducted in Phum Soc, in each temple, and has now expanded to the whole province.

The Moon Offering Ceremony takes place in Khmer pagodas

Ok Om Bok Festival, also known as Moon Offering Festival, is held on the 14th and 15th, the full Moon of the tenth month of the lunar calendar. According to the Khmer concept, the Moon is the god who has the power to govern crops in agricultural cultivation. After harvesting the first products of the crop, people conduct an offering ceremony to thank the Moon God for a bountiful harvest, helping the Phum squirrel have a prosperous life. Therefore, the Ok Om Bok Festival is considered the most unique point in cultural tourism development in Tra Vinh province.

The province organized the Ok Om Bok Festival on a regional scale this year. Additionally, the Culture and Tourism Week - Southern Food Festival, associated with Ok Om Bok Festival in 2022, will take place in 7 days (from November 2 to November 8, 2022) with many activities to preserve and promote traditional cultural values, promote and introduce to friends inside and outside the province about the province's potentials and advantages, towards attracting investment in many fields, especially culture - travel.

Pictures of the boat launching

The highlight that attracts a large number of tourists inside and outside the province to attend is the Ngo boat racing festival. The Ngo boat racing festival will take place at the Long Binh River flowing through the center of Tra Vinh city This year, on the two days of the October 13-14 lunar calendar. The boat race officially begins at noon when the tide is high. The Ngo boat is a traditional means of transportation on the river of the Khmer people in the South of Vietnam.

 The Ngo boat is in the form of the snake god Nagar. 40 to 50 professional swimmers from the locality on each boat will participate in the competition. In the background of traditional five-tone music, the cheers of tens of thousands of attendees surrounded the two banks of the Long Binh River. Ngo boat racing is not only an exciting sport serving tens of thousands of viewers but also a traditional ritual of giving thanks to the Water God after the sowing-harvesting cycle and, at the same time, sending the Water Spirit back to the sea in Vietnam when the rainy season ends, and the dry season is about to start in the cycle of one year.

 In addition, during the festival, the scenic Ao Ba Om relic site is a place that attracts a large number of people from provinces and cities throughout the country to sightseeing and experiences the tourism and cultural activities of residents.

 After a series of exciting activities of the Festival, the Moon Offering Ceremony officially began when night fell, also when the Moon was just high, a number of elders were appointed on behalf of 143 temples. Theravada Buddhism and all Khmer people in the province conduct the Moon Offering.

 Moon worshiping is a traditional folk festival of the Khmer people in the South, reflecting, preserving, and transmitting the positive values of traditional cultural beliefs that bind each person's life, family, fields, crops, and nature. Therefore, the items that are solemnly displayed to offer thanks to the Gods of the Moon, God of Water, and God of Land are all agricultural products, such as potatoes, bananas, coconut, and sugarcane, that the local people have just harvested. In particular, flat rice is considered the most sacred and indispensable item on the day of the Moon Offering. Because according to the Khmer concept: "Ok Om Bok" means "Putting flat rice by hand", this Festival is also known as the Festival of making flat rice.

The Ritual of Feeding Flat Rice

After the moon worshiping ceremony ended, it was time for people to immerse themselves in the bustling atmosphere of the festival. Large lanterns were put on vehicles. In front of the vehicles was a dance team and a five-tone orchestra, and behind that were monks and villagers holding small lights to walk and parade along the four banks of Ba Om Pond, making a magnificent procession with colorful, cheerful sounds and colors that make people's hearts flutter. At the end of the parade, all the lanterns are dropped on the water of Ba Om Pond, creating a shimmering and fanciful atmosphere throughout the night of the festival. At the end of the ceremony, Khmer people and tourists will enjoy the traditional dish of flat rice and many famous specialties of the so-called Tea land. They sing and dance together to celebrate Ok Om Bok festival and celebrate a new, fulfilling and happy life.

From a festival of Khmer ethnic people, today, Ok Om Bok has become an open cultural activity of the community, contributing to the preservation and promotion of traditional cultural identity and consolidation, as well as strengthening the great national unity. With these unique cultural values, the Ok Om Bok Festival of the Khmer people in the South, including the Ok Om Bok Festival in Tra Vinh, has been approved by the Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism.

The Ok Om Bok festival today has become a festival with profound humanistic meaning in the spiritual life of Khmer people in Southern provinces. The fact that the Ok Om Bok Festival is maintained every year has contributed to preserving and promoting the traditional cultural beauty of the Khmer people and promoting that identity to tourists near and far. This is also an opportunity for the province to promote and introduce the image of the land and people of Tra Vinh to domestic and foreign tourists.



Minh Tu 

Hoang Khiem (Translator)



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