Traditional Thai buffalo race kicks off rice growing season

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Thai farmers raced their water buffaloes at a muddy annual race on Sunday to mark the beginning of the new rice growing season at the start of the monsoon weather, in a tradition dating back to the 1800s which celebrates the beasts of burden.

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Scores of spectators watched the racing on a 200 meter-long dirt track in the seaside province of Chonburi, some 80 km (50 miles) southeast of the capital, Bangkok.

The race, which sometimes takes place at the end of the monsoon, was paused during the coronavirus pandemic but returned last year.

buffalo race festival, buffalo race Thailand Jockeys compete in Chonburi’s annual buffalo race festival, in Chonburi province, Thailand. (REUTERS/Athit Perawongmetha)

Most Thai farmers no longer use water buffalo for farming but many are still keen to keep the animals.

“Today, it doesn’t matter for for me if I win or lose. I wanted to preserve this tradition,” said Somchai Kamchab, 58, who owns a buffalo competing in the race.

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