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Buffalo racing festival in the cultures of Southeast Asia


Buffaloes carrying traditional wooden plows race on the fields of Bali, Indonesia. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Village buffalo racing festival in Cambodia

Every October, in the village of Vihear Sour, about 40 km northeast of the capital Phnom Penh, the biggest, strongest buffalos will be selected to participate in the village buffalo race, a festival has the meaning of preserving the tradition of nearly a century of “pagoda land”. The village buffalo racing is part of the Pchum Ben festival, the biggest traditional festival of the year for the Khmer. During this festival, villagers will ride on their backs lavishly decorated buffaloes racing on a narrow dirt track, about 500 meters long. Surrounded by thousands of enthusiastic spectators cheering.

“We have encouraged buffalo owners to join the race to preserve this long tradition. We hope more buffalo will participate in this event in the coming years, ”said Heng Than, Head of the Organizing Committee of Buffalo Race, said that the winner will receive a prize of 50,000 riel (about 300,000 dong) join the buffalo race.

Yan Than, a participant in the buffalo race, said he has been in the festival for 10 consecutive years. This is a festival that aims to preserve the traditions of the village from the 1920s.

“The race is for entertainment purposes only, not to win or lose. After each race, we ride the buffalo back home and they accompany us in the field work, ”he said.

Buffalo racing is the funniest event of the year for the villagers of Vihear Sour. Not only attracting locals, the festival also creates an exciting atmosphere for many visitors from all over to participate.

Previously, there were a lot of buffaloes participating in the race, but now the number of buffaloes is decreasing because farmers are no longer interested in raising buffalo. Most people have turned to other mechanized farming equipment instead for farming.

Dramatic buffalo racing festival in Thailand

Photo caption
Thai farmers drive a pair of buffaloes racing on wet fields in Chonburi province, Thailand. Photo: AP

Among the thousands of Thai festivals, Wing Kwai seems to be the most exciting buffalo racing festival.

Held every October in Chonburi province, the traditional festival has been around for more than 1,400 years, marking the end of the rainy season and the start of the harvest in Thailand. The people believe that this festival will help the buffalo to be healthier, to help the crop be more fertile and the people to have a fuller life.

According to the experience of a long-time buffalo racer, a beautiful buffalo that is qualified to participate in the festival must be a male, in good health, with thick fur, glossy black, and wide brisket.

After doing field work, buffaloes will be selected and cared for according to their own regime, even they are allowed to drink beer to add “blood pressure” in the arena.

To compete fairly, buffalo will be graded according to weight class, including 5 classes from small buffalo to giant ones. The race took place on a straight dirt road, over 1km long.

A buffalo participating in the race can weigh tons of tons. Therefore, controlling this animal is not easy. Meanwhile, riders are not allowed to carry any other equipment except a piece of rope and a whip. The maximum speed that a buffalo can reach is about 50 km / h.

This makes balancing on the animal’s back quite difficult and only experienced “riders” can control these “warrior” buffalo.

“To become a winner, the buffalo will have to gallop to finish the race. If the buffalo owner falls, he or she will lose, ”said Jai Indramaporn, a 73-year-old farmer.

When the thrilling race ends, the winning buffalo will be honored and the buffalo owner will receive an incentive reward of about 9,000 USD. Locals think that Wing Kwai is a festival honoring “farmer’s friend”, the buffalo who made a great contribution to the development of Thai agriculture – one of the major rice exporting countries. best of the world.

Buffalo race on paradise island Bali

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The buffalo “warriors” are splendidly decorated, with colorful crowns on their heads
excellent at the Makepung festival. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Not only known as the paradise island of the gods, Bali is also the place where the extremely unique Makepung buffalo racing festival takes place.

Originating from the agricultural life of the people on the island, since ancient times, Makepung (meaning “chasing”) was just a pastime of the farmer after tiring hours working in the fields. Now, this festival is considered by the people to be a way to preserve the long-standing cultural traditions of the locality.

Makepung buffalo races usually start early in the morning. Here, hundreds of pairs of buffaloes will carry traditional wooden plows with farmers across the vast fields of Bali island at the fastest speed. The buffalo race is known locally as “kerbau pepadu”.

During the races, the buffalo will wear a colorful crown. The muddy everyday animals are now the most splendid, mighty warriors. They will have to compete in different races, usually divided into three classes. The winning buffalo owner and animal will then enter the provincial finals.

“Every season, people eagerly await the Makepung buffalo racing festival. The festival is like connecting the close friendship between the farmer and the buffalo who always accompany them ”, said Mr. Made Mara, Head of Makepung Buffalo Race Organizing Committee.


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