Cung Phuoc Bien festival in Soc Trang

Khmer people in the Mekong Delta has many traditional festivals during the year, all festivals are linked to religious and community activities; particularly, in Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province there is Chrorumchec festivals – the local people call Cung Phuoc Bien rituals – was held on 14 and 15 February (lunar calendar) every year, attracting thousands of visitors attending.

The time of festival

Cung Phuoc Bien festival is held on February 14 – 15 every year in the lunar calendar when is related to the beautiful weather.

Cung Phuoc Bien

Cung Phuoc Bien

Location

Cung Phuoc Bien festival has existed hundreds of years ago and always taking place in Don Chech Hamlet, Vinh Chau commune, Vinh Chau district, Soc Trang province.

Objects of worship

People pray to the heaven, the earth, gods and the ancestors who have created and built lands.

The meanings of Cung Phuoc Bien festival are praying for the prosperous country, good weather and good harvests. And it is a tribute to the predecessors who had the merits to reclaim and build the land.

They express their gratitude to the heaven, the earth and gods had let them get comfortable life, giving thanks to the sea gave them many shrimp and fishing, giving thanks to the land gave them the green fields and heavy gold particles of the rice.

The origin of Cung Phuoc Bien festival

Initially, this festival only took place on a small and spontaneous scale. The festival was formed from the idea of a Khmer monk named Ta Hu. At first, he built a tower on sand dunes, near Ca Sang pagoda (this place is the venue of the festival today) for the fellow of Buddhists come to burn incense and sincere worship.

He chose the full moon day of February in lunar calendar (that is the full moon day in November of Khmer people) to establish the altar for doing good, because this is a time of quiet sun, the sea is calm, all fishermen come back from the sea with the boat full of fish and shrimp.

Then, this blessing day was gradually considered by many people, they were enthusiastic to response as it met their wishes. From that on, Cung Phuoc Bien festival was formed and became a traditional festival not only for the Khmer but also for the Vietnamese and Chinese people who live around this area.

folk music at Cung Phuoc Bien festival

folk music at Cung Phuoc Bien festival

Characteristics

This is the traditional festival of the Khmer. They organize Requiem, Tam Bao praying, prosperous praying for the country and people, the monks preaching, traditional Khmer dance, cow racing, Ngo boat race on the land.

In the past, the opening ceremony was the scene replayed hard life, hard work of the farmers in the early period. That’s scene of hundreds of girls wearing irrigation bucket on their shoulders. Although water bucket weighs their shoulders but they still smile, chatting together like trying to banish tiredness. Besides, there are hundreds of burly boys, with dark skin color; they are bringing on their shoulders fish tackle to work for living.

Perhaps, cow racing is passionate and exciting. Cow carts packed with people, the driver has whipped and shouted, trying his best to become the winner. In this race, winning is not the important thing, the main significance of this racing cow is  to remind people to remember the early days of farming life, when there was no modern machinery, cows in Vinh Chau have contributed a big part to the work of the farmer to get good rice.

But, the most unique thing is Ngo boat race on the land. This race takes place in consecutive years of drought, crop failure, all the canals are dry. They have to do boat racing on the land as a sign to the sky for better weather with rain, people have both water for irrigation and water for their life.

The festival program also has music performances with lithe and attractive dances of Khmer girls. There were traditional dances like the chicken dance, monkey dance of Khmer artisans. The carnival atmosphere is very jubilant, noisy and bustling with the singing, the music, and the drums of the unique traditional art of Khmer people in the Mekong Delta.

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