Alot of poeple believe, that the festival is just a race between the districts, however it is foremost a reigious festival.
Of course the competition is now a large part if its fascination and, due to human nature it is today the main reason many of the participants join.
During the Oiyama, being overtaken is considered a large dishonour. In the past there even have been several brawls between an overtaking and an overtaken district. Even today during the last part of the race the carriers will show an unusual vigor on the wider streets, where being overtake is possible. However today if one district is faster than the one, that started before it, they will usually slow down in order to save the opponents honour.
The first incedent of this happened 1795 as Higashi-nagare caught up with Daikoku-nagare but didn’t overtake it, after which Daikoku-nagares inhabitants out of thankfulness donated alot of food and drinks to Higashi-nagare.