Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Buffalos and horses: They’re off and racing

Buffalos and horses: They’re off and racing

Buffalos and horses: They’re off and racing

buffalo

{flv}buffalo/buffalo_pchum_ben{/flv}
Thousands of Cambodians have flocked to Vihear Sour village to watch water buffalo race along muddy roads as part of a ceremony marking the end of the Pchum Ben festival.

For generations, the village, in Kandal province’s Ksach Kandal district, has closed Pchum Ben – a Buddhist festival to honour deceased relatives – with water buffalo races.

As has been the case for the past several years, however, horses were needed to make up the numbers.

The race’s head organiser, Chhay Sophea, said some water buffalo had come down with an infection that made them physically unable to race.

The owners of other water buffalo had sold them.

The Thang, a member of the ceremony’s organising committee, said the number of water buffalo had fallen by about 50 percent compared with last year because of an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease.

“We cannot take the villagers’ buffalo in the competition because they cannot walk,” he said.

He said that while last year there were roughly 30 buffalo that participated, this year there were only 14.

The 12 horses that participated this year matched the number from last year.

Both horses and buffalo were adorned with brightly coloured headgear before the festivities kicked off.

The participants raced back and forth between Vihear Sour pagoda, where the most spectators watched, and a spirit house a few hundred metres away.

Before the race, organisers said, the buffalo had been brought to the spirit house by villagers, who prayed for their health and well-being.

The race lasted about 45 minutes and featured a range of speeds, from horses that tore through the course with power and grace to water buffalo that never broke into a full sprint.

One rider barrelled through the course without placing his hands on the reins.

The wild-eyed daredevil extended his limbs outward as his horse surged towards the Vihear Sour pagoda finish line, as families cheered him on just a few metres away on either side.

Chan Ny, one of the villagers who rode a buffalo, said he never felt he was in danger because “I know my buffalo very well”.

Less fortunate riders, however, were bucked off their buffalo and made to chase them, much to the delight of the spectators.

All owners of participating buffalo and horses were given 10,000 riels (US$2.38), said Chhet Chhean, the chief of Vihear Sour commune.

No overall winner was announced....read the full story in tomorrow’s Phnom Penh Post or see the updated story online from 3PM UTC/GMT +7 hours.

MOST VIEWED

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Angkor Wat named as the top landmark for the second year

    Travel website TripAdvisor has named Cambodia’s ancient wonder Angkor Wat as the top landmark in the world for the second year running in their Travelers’ Choice Award 2018, an achievement Cambodian tourism operators expect will attract more tourists to the Kingdom. The website uses traveller

  • Ministry’s plan for net sparks fears

    The government has ordered all domestic and international internet traffic in the Kingdom to pass through a Data Management Centre (DMC) that has been newly created by the state-owned Telecom Cambodia, in a move some have claimed is an attempt to censor government critics. Spokesman

  • Hun Sen detractors ‘will die’

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday said those who curse or insult him would eventually die without a plot of land to bury their bodies after being killed by lightning, suffering the same fate as those who recently died in Thmar Baing district in Koh