Elephant racing festival in Vietnam’s Dak Lak

Elephants are a symbol of the nature and culture of the red basaltic land, and a strength to tourism, ecology for Dak Lak Province. From being wild animals, elephants were domesticated to become an intrinsic part of people’s life and also loyal friends. Previously, people used elephants for hunting, transportation, carrying logs, etc. Today, elephants mostly participate in festivals and tourism activities that contribute to a more prosperous life in ethnic villages.

Finish by Bao Hung

In Buon Don and Ea Sup – the home to famous elephant hunters, an elephant racing festival is the most exciting time of the year. In the sunny and windy March, when the sky is blue, the most intelligent and strongest elephants together with talented elephant jockeys from villages gather in Krong Ana Commune (Buon Don Village) to take part in this traditional festival. In a stadium nestled in the middle of the dipterocarp forest, tourists can see elephants to parade in front of spectators, kneel down for greetings in a very polite manner; followed by elephant’s pulling heavy objects and throwing logs, elephant-human tug of war, elephant football, and elephants dancing to the tune of Ding Nam trumpet.

Breakout by Minh Phuong

During the festival, scenes of elephant catching are also recreated. The performance is also a living museum of elephant catching work when at the same time people can observe brave and strong elephants, experienced hunters demonstrating their skilled catching movements, and multifunctional elephant catching tools such as horns and lassoes. At Buon Tri river wharf, on Serepok river, tourists can enjoy a spectacular sport which is elephant swimming. Upon a command, elephants run into the water trying to cross the river to the excited cheers of the crowd. Other elephants carry tourists on their saddles and ardently cross the stream, which allows tourists to both watch the elephant water sport and sightsee Yok Don National Park along the river.

Elephants playing football by Le Oanh

The elephant racing festival and the gong festival are the most impressive performances and cultural exhibits that are indispensable in the Coffee festival in March of the Central Highlands. The gentle and majestic elephants that have strong attachment to people take us back to the past, the feeling of resounding gongs, roars of elephants, and brave screams of heroes in epics of Dam San, Xinh Nha; and the roots of the pristine, innocent, and humane culture of people and the legendary land here.

The article used information from the magazine of Dak Lak – Vitality of the vast jungles

Featured image named Elephant racing in Buon Don by Tran Thi Mui