Thousands of Cambodians flocked to Vihear Sour pagoda here on Monday to watch buffalo races along a dirt track as part of a ceremony marking the end of Pchum Ben, an annual 15-day festival honoring the dead.
Sam Sophy, director of Kandal Provincial Tourism Department, said 24 water buffalos were registered for the 450-meter-race on a muddy road leading to the pagoda.
“The event is aimed to preserve and promote our Cambodian culture and tradition to national and international tourists,” he told Xinhua.
Thai Thang, chairman of the racing committee, said each of the participants was given five U.S. dollars.
Rider Cho Sok-hen, 35, said he has joined the race for 15 years in order to preserve this traditional sport and to celebrate the Pchum Ben.
“We do not compete for the championship, but for pleasure. After the race, we ride our beasts back home and do farming as usual,” he said.
Interspersed with the buffalo races were horse races and other events, including bouts of traditional wrestling and stick- fighting.
Both buffaloes and horses were adorned with brightly colored headgear before the festivities kicked off.
“I have joined the race for three years. My participation is to contribute to the preservation of Cambodian tradition,” said horse rider Thy Thach.
“After the race, we use our horses for transportation.”
Pchum Ben is one of the largest traditional ceremonies in the Southeast Asian country. Vihear Sour pagoda is located some 40 km southeast of capital Phnom Penh. E