The first regional “Ngo” boat race festival, a traditional race among ethnic Khmer in the Mekong Delta, is slated for November 14-17 in the southern province of Soc Trang with 61 teams on the waiting list. 

Competitions will be divided into two categories of 1,200 metres for men and 1,000 metres for women.

The festival is expected to lure hundreds of thousands of visitors both at home and abroad.

As a sacred object of the Khmer people, every “Ngo” boat (Ghe Ngo) is made of wood by artisans and Khmer Buddhist monks. It is decorated with images of dragons, tigers, elephants, lions and peacocks representing its power.

“Ngo” boat racing is also one of the activities to celebrate the Ok Om Bok (worshipping the moon) festival which is held on the fifteenth day of the tenth lunar month every year with plenty of entertainment, art performances, traditional sports and games.

As part of the racing festival, over 50 contestants are competing in a traditional Kinh-Khmer – Hoa costumes performance competition from November 11-16.

The organising board will honour the top four finishers and award consolation prizes to 10 others.

Added to the festive atmosphere, the first Southern Khmer “du ke” singing festival opened in Soc Trang on November 11 with nearly 500 artists from six southern provinces taking part.

“Du ke” is a popular form of folk art created by the Khmer in the southwestern region of Vietnam . All performances praise the good and condemn the bad, but always with a happy ending.

Listed among the 12 intangible elements of cultural heritage nominated by the Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism to UNESCO for the 2012-2016 period, “du ke” originated from Cambodia ’s royal art of dancing, but has been influenced by Cai Luong (Renovated Theatre), as well as the art of singing by the Hoa ethnic group in the region.

Audiences who do not understand the Khmer language can still comprehend the story thanks to the professional skills of actors.

In the 1920s, it developed in leaps and bounds with many troupes taking shape in Tra Vinh.