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Thailand’s annual water buffalo festival starts off with its buffalo race. Buffaloes have played an important role in Thailand’s farming communities.
Thousands of people gathered to watch a water buffalo race in Chonburi, Thailand on Tuesday.
The race is part of the province’s annual water buffalo festival, an event that has been going on for 140 years.
Locals say that the buffalo’s health plays an important role in ensuring the farmers’ wealth and happiness.
[Sonthaya Khunpleum, Senior Politician, Chonburi Province]:
“In the old days when farmers gathered at the temple to make merit, they brought their buffaloes along. After they made merit they went on to buy their farm supplies. And before they returned back back home, they got their buffaloes to race. It was their game when they met up.”
[Vorawat Arnant-vitthayaransri, Buffalo Owner]:
“I boiled rice, mix with milk and fed my buffaloes. Then I fed them with half-boiled eggs in about a month before the race.”
This year 128 buffaloes took part in the race.
Depending on their age and size, they were all divided into four categories.
A total of four to seven buffaloes took part in the qualifying races, with the winners making it through to the final.
The fastest buffaloes can bring in as much as US$17,000 for the owner.
Buffaloes are an important part of the peoples’ livelihoods as they often carry out heavy labor, plowing and husking the rice fields.
The Chonburi buffalo race will last for one week.