Ban Bung holds its own buffalo races

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Never one to be outdone by Chonburi City, Ban Bung opened its own annual buffalo-racing festival at Toh Rung Market.

The Ban Bung city and district organized races for all sizes of buffaloes to honor their traditional use and celebrate agricultural tradition.

Provincial historians believe the races and festival were first held when Chonburi Province was the center of trade for the eastern part of Thailand. Farmers and merchants from the region would descend on Ban Bung District to trade their goods, bringing their produce and wares by way of buffalo drawn carts. What exactly transpired prompting the first race is uncertain, but provincial historians suggest that it probably started at Wat Luang, now called Wat Yai Intharam.

Water buffalo with magnificent horns lead the opening parade.Water buffalo with magnificent horns lead the opening parade.

Merchants would park their carts near the market and the water buffalo were tethered off to the side to rest, or taken to bathe following the trip into town where lotus flowers were collected for offerings at the temple. Presumably, there were some fun-seeking individuals at the annual gathering who, at the end of Buddhist Lent and before leaving Chonburi, would gather and race their buffalo for a bit of fun and camaraderie. Water buffalo races eventually became a common reoccurrence each year.

During the reign of King Rama VI, His Majesty King Mongkut visited Chonburi and proudly witnessed the event on December 7, 1912, which helped commemorate the event to this day. Other records indicate that Rama V also witnessed the buffalo races in Chonburi, remarking that the enjoyable event should be preserved as a national tradition.