Bull- running in Bảy Núi, An Giang

Bull racing is not only an annual cultural festival but also a sporting event of Khmer people in Bảy Núi area (Seven mountains), An Giang Province. The Bảy Núi Bull Run takes place during the Dolta festival (a festival to pray for happiness for ancestors) from the 29th August to 1st September in lunar calendar.

The history of this particular festival is actually quite simple. It began long ago, each year, in transplanting season as Khmer farmers took their cows to plow pagodas’ fields. They called for each other to bring a pairs of bulls into a race of drawing rake. The competition was simply for fun at first, but as time goes by, it became a routine and was hold by the head bonze of the pagoda. Since then, bull- running in Bảy Núi region has become an annual traditional festival that has lured thousands of tourists.

An Giang

Visiting An Giang in the last days of August, tourists will have a chance to experience the animated and exciting atmosphere pervaded the whole area. Whilst women prepare offerings and decorate the house for Dolta festival, men take their time to pick out the strongest and fastest cows for the race.

To prepare for the bull race, the organizers choose a muddy and slippery field which is 200m length and 100m wide, but the main racetrack is only 120m length. It is bound around to ensure the safety of spectators and make sure bulls running in the right direction. Both the departure and finish lines marked with red and green flag poles.

Before getting into the race, they choose two pairs of bulls and reach an agreement about which pair start first and which one later. Each pair will be put a special yoke on. The controllers hold a rod or a round stick of wood added with a pin- called ‘xalul’. When the starting order is raced, the bull controller sting the xa-lul strongly into the bull’s hip, the bull is hurtled and run fast to the front. It is important to sting equally into the hip of the both bulls to maintain the fastest speed. If any pair runs out of the race path, they would be excluded from the race; or if any pair which steps on the yoke frame of the other will be the winner; and of course, if any pairs reach the finish line first, they will also win.

cap treo nui cam

From the beginning till the end, the festival is always pervaded by cheering, shouting and clapping, an atmosphere of excitement. This will be an unforgettable memory for tourists who seek for new experience in a different culture.

For the community in Bảy Núi area, bull running has a special meaning to local people. The prize not only brings happiness and good luck to the bull owner, but also to the whole community. They believe that, in the year of the winning, the villagers will be healthful and have bumper crops.

Besides the opportunity to behold an interesting festival, setting foot in An Giang, tourists will also have a chance to explore the beauty of colourful and diverse scenery from melaleuca forest Trà Sư and the wetland ecosystem of Châu Đốc to historical destinations or enjoy local specialty

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