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Pattaya City Thailand, Chonburi Buffalo Races

Chonburi Buffalo Races

on the eastern seaboard

Part Two:
As years have passed the festival has grown in a number of ways. As one might expect in a society as religious and respectful as Thailand, it has developed somewhat of a religious significance, whereby it is now treated as part of the celebration of the rice harvest. Prior to the start of the races a ceremony is held to give thanks for the rain and the crop as well as to pray for good fortune for the year ahead. Furthermore, it has become one way in which Thais celebrate the important role played by buffalo in Thai agriculture, particularly in this day and age when much of their work can now be done more quickly and efficiently by modern farm machinery.

Thailand chonburi buffalo races

In 1912, the event received Royal approval when King Mongkut (Rama VI) attended the day's racing, which he is said to have greatly enjoyed. However, probably the most obvious way in which the day has grown is simply in the pure number of buffalo now taking part. This year there will be several hundred animals involved in the races, racing in heats, with five or six running in each. The animals will be divided into four categories by size, although the division into classes of smallest, small, medium and heavy is not necessarily as scientific as it might be in a somewhat more serious sport.

The actual races are run along a track that measures some one hundred and ten metres in length, with the jockeys encouraging their respective beasts to greater effort with a wooden stick in the manner of a racehorse jockey with a whip. However, there aren't too many other similarities with horse racing. For one thing, the jockey getting aboard his mount, particularly given the lack of any saddle, can be a much more uncertain process and one that can take a bit of time. For another, there is then no guarantee that, firstly, any given buffalo will be persuaded

 
to run at the start of its race and, secondly, assuming that the first hurdle has been satisfactorily overcome, that it will run in the direction of the finish line.

However, this event has now become a fully fledged festival and so there is far more than simply watching the races and soaking up the atmosphere for attendees to get involved with. An Asian festival just wouldn't be the same without a beauty pageant and this one is no exception.

chonburi buffalo races


In fact, they have two and, dependant upon how widely you want to interpret the definition of "beauty", arguably three such contests. However, although the "Miss Buffalo" contest is very much along traditional lines and involves beautiful young women competing for the title, the "Best Decorated Buffalo" and "Most Healthy Buffalo" contests are, as the respective titles suggest, for animals with four legs and a pair of horns. As to what kind of women actually want to win the title of "Miss Buffalo" I would rather not comment. Suffice it to say that back in the UK I have been given a black eye and a bloody lip for calling a woman something far less offensive.

Other attractions include entertainment by clowns, an oily pole climbing contest (although I understand that you don't have to be either Polish or oily to take part), a sling-shot shooting contest and buffalo "wrestling" which involves men pitting their wits against the raw power of their four legged opponents.

The date for the event is determined by a rather complex calculation that involves working out the day on which the fourteenth full moon night of the eleventh lunar month will fall. To say that such a calculation is beyond me would be an extreme understatement, so I simply phoned the Tourist Authority of Thailand, who told me that this year the event will take place on the 9th of October, which, according to my diary, will be a Thursday.

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Pattaya City Thailand, Chonburi Buffalo Races

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