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Festivals of Cambodia

CAMBODIA FESTIFALS

 

Most Cambodians do not or cannot afford to go on vacations. Their cycles of work and rest are seasonal and depend on the tasks to be done at home and in the fields. Most Cambodians have only known peace for a short time, but they are a fun-loving people and use any opportunity to gather, caht, play with their children, cook, and have special meals together. They also save money to celebrate their festivals with gusto.

 

MAJOR HOLIDAYS AND FESTIVALS OF CAMBODIA

 

Cambodians look forward to their holidays and festivals. The first festival of the year is the Chinese and Vietnamese Yew year. It is celebrated in January or February. Many shops are closed, and processions are held in the towns. national Day is celebrated on January 7 to commemorate the fall of the Khmer Rouge and the anniversaryt of the last sermon of Buddha.

 

KHMER NEW YEAR



The Khmer New Year, or 'Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei' in the Khmer language, is commonly celebrated on 13th April each year although sometimes the holiday may fall on the 14th April in keeping with the Cambodian lunar calendar. This marks the end of the harvest season when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor and relax before the start of the rainy season. The New Year holidays last for three days

During this time, people engage in traditional Khmer games; they paly such games as the Bas Angkunh 'seed throwing', Chaol Chhoung 'twisted-scarf throwing', Leak Kanséng 'twisted-scarf hide', tug of war, shuttlecock kicking, etc. Throughout the country, people merrily dance the traditional Khmer forms of the Ran Vong, Ram Kbach, Saravan, and Lam Leav in the open.

 

YOYAL PLOUGHING CEREMONY


The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, or 'Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal' in the Khmer language, is solemnly celebrated at the beginning of the sowing and planting season. Every year in May, this cultural ceremony takes place at the park in front of the National Museum (next to the Royal Palace). Cambodia has deep connection with earth and farming. There is a deep astrological belief that royal oxen known in Khmer as Usapheak Reach, have an instrumental role in determining the fate of the agricultural harvest each year.

Traditionally, the King Meak, representing the king of Cambodia, ploughs the field whilst the Queen, the Preah Mehuo, sows seeds from behind. The field is ceremoniously ploughed three times around. The royal servants then drive the royal oxen to seven golden trays containing rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water, and wine to feed. The royal soothsayers interpret what the oxen have eaten and predict a series of events including epidemics, floods, good harvests, and excessive rainfall. At this festival, both men and women wear brightly colored Khmer traditional costume.

 

PCHUM BEN DAY OR ALL SOUL DAY

 

Running for 15 days, usually from the end of September into October, this festival is dedicated to blessing the spirits of the dead and is one of the most culturally significant in Cambodia.  The exact date defers year to year as determined by the lunar calendar.  Each household visits their temple of choice and offers food to the monks.

Offering of food is a meritorious act and is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. During the Pchum Ben festival, people bring food to the temple for the monks and to feed hungry ghosts who could be their late ancestors, relatives or friends. Pagodas are usually crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings and to beg the monks to pray for their late ancestors and loved ones. Many remain behind at the temple to listen to Buddhist sermons.

Footnote:-
"Hungry ghost" is one of the six modes of existence in the ‘Wheel of Life’. Hungry ghosts or ‘Preta’ which means ‘departed ones’ in Sanskrit, are pitiable creatures with huge, empty stomachs and pinhole mouths; their necks are so thin they cannot swallow, so they remain hungry.  It is believed that beings are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy.

Cambodians leave food offerings on altars and around temple grounds for hungry ghosts.  Pchum Ben is a festival that features food and entertainment for such hungry ghosts.

 

WATER FESTIVAL



the Water Festival, a spectacle to behold, is probably the most exorbitant festival held each year in November. It is usually celebrated for three days, i.e. the 14th and 15th of the waxing moon and the 1st of the waning moon of the month of Kadek. The 15th of the waxing moon is the last full moon day.

The festival ushers in the fishing season, marks a change in the flow of the Tonlé Sap and the ebbing-water season, and is seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish.

At the height of the rainy season, the water of the Mékong River forces the Tonlé Sap to reverse its current and to flow up to the Tonlé Sap Lake. As the water of the Mékong River begins to subside, the swollen Tonlé Sap Lake flows back to the Mékong River through the Tonlé Sap and empties into the sea, which leaves behind vast quantities of fish. This, indeed, is a remarkable phenomenon of the Tonlé Sap.

 

PISAKH BOCHEA DAY

 

Pisakh Bochea is the most important Buddhist festival. It celebrates the Buddha's birth, his enlightenment, and his attainment of eternal bliss. People gether at the temples to participate in religious processions,  receive blessings, and make offerings of flowers and food. 

 

CHOL VASSA FESTIVAL

 

Another main festival in the beginning of Buddhist Lent, or Chol Vassa, in July, coinciding with the begining of the rainy season. many young men begin their period of monkhood on this day. The end of Buddhist Lent is in September and is celebrated with boat races in some places. 

 

Source: Ministry of Tourism of Cambodia

 

 
 



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