Full-moon festival of Khmer people in Mekong Delta | Cruise Mekong River

Full-moon festival of Khmer people in Mekong Delta

Full-moon festival of Khmer people in Mekong Delta

The Khmer ethnic people celebrated their traditional Ok Om Bok festival on the full-moon day of the tenth month of the lunar calendar every year to thank the moon for the good weather, good crops and plenty of food. This year’s festival fell on November 26.
Ok Om Bok is now a popular festival celebrated not only in Soc Trang but also in other Mekong Delta provinces of Vinh Long, Tra Vinh, Can Tho, Kien Giang and An Giang. In the Khmer belief, the Moon Goddess is the one who cares for the crops, aquatic sources and human life. Also called Festival of Worshipping the Moon, the Ok Om Bok Festival of each village takes place on the yard of a local pagoda, and the whole province’s Ok Om Bok Festival takes place at Ba Om Pond. The festival is one of the three typical festivals of the Khmer in the circle of one year. Read more: travel to Vietnam

During the night, family members gathered in front of the communal pagoda or their houses, preparing a special feast with green rice flakes, ripe bananas, fresh peeled coconuts and mangoes to offer to the moon.

The offering ceremony begins with all family members sitting flat on the ground and clasping their hands in wait for the moon to rise. An elderly man expresses their gratitude to the moon and prays for continued good crops and good health.

After the ceremony, they continue looking at the moon, while receiving green rice flakes from an elderly man and making their wishes.

They then launched paper lanterns into the sky and banana-tree rafts into a river. The rafts are decorated with colourful lights and loaded with offerings.

On the following morning, a boat race is held. Each boat is a pirogue made from a trunk of good timber, in a lozenge shape. It has a curved head and tail and is managed by skillful boatmen in a competition. Hundreds of people enthusiastically support their favourite teams and enjoy the race.

Ok Om Bok festival was held in the Mekong Delta tours province of Soc Trang for all people – ethnic Khmers, Chinese-Vietnamese and Vietnamese. They prayed to the Moon for bumper harvests all the year round, prosperity and happiness. A jubilant atmosphere prevailed over the celebration sites where large members of people gathered to enjoy folk art performances, including floating flames, flying balloons, and Khmer stage arts of Du Ke and Ro Bam.
The night becomes more exciting with ethnic games and traditional fashion shows. Some join a contest of flying lanterns and silently contemplate the colors. A flying lantern is made with a bamboo frame pasted with paper. A tinder is tied under the frame then fired, which makes the lantern fly high in the air. The flying lantern rises higher and higher in a mysterious and romantic breeze as if bringing the hopes and beliefs of the Khmer people to the Moon God, who is tucking up the clouds to look down at the earth. At Ba Om Pond, the ritual of the flying-lantern release has become an exciting contest with the participation of tens of pagodas in the province under the encouragement of tens of thousands of festival participants.

The event also features water-lanterns made from bamboo and paper in the shape of a boat with colorful decorations. People make a line with a drum band ahead, whisper their prayers to God and gently drop paper-boats on the water. The river is indulged in peaceful and fanciful scenery. This is also the traditional time for couples to pray for their love and destiny. The festival celebrations also included traditional Khmer rituals and special performances by art troupes from other provinces. People also flocked to downtown Soc Trang for shopping at trade fairs and watching traditional sports and games.

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