Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia • illuminaija
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Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

   
   

Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

Throughout Cambodia’s long history, religion has been a major source of cultural inspiration.

Over nearly three millennia, Cambodians have developed a unique Cambodian culture and belief system from the syncretism of indigenous animistic beliefs and the Indian religions of Buddhism and Hinduism.

Hence, the Cambodian year is usually filled with colourful festivals in which natives return to their home province to celebrate with their relatives. Here are some of the popular ones.

Khmer New Year

Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

Siem Reap is a centre of celebration during this time, with local holiday-makers heading there to see in the New Year and take part in the three-day Angkor Sankranta event at Angkor’s temples.

   
   

The first day of Khmer New Year is called Moha Songkran. It is believed that on this day a new god or angel is appointed to protect everyone throughout the coming year.

To welcome him, people, clean and decorate their houses, and wear new clothes. Offerings of fruits, incense sticks, lotus flowers, and cans of coke are also left at the spirit houses that guard entrances, a common sight across the country during this time.

Day two is Wanabat – Day of Giving – when gifts are given to parents and elders. Children also receive new clothes, and money and used goods are donated to the poor. In the evening, visits are made to the pagoda to receive blessings from monks.

The third day is Tanai Lieang Saka, which means a new beginning. Monks are visited in the morning for blessings so expect early morning queues at the pagodas.

This is followed by colourful celebrations in the afternoon, which often spill into the night.

Pchum Ben

Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

After Khmer New Year, Pchum Ben is another hugely important holiday for Cambodians. The festival – spread across 15 days, with the final three given as public holidays – usually falls towards the end of September or the beginning of October. 

Many people believe that during this time, the trapped spirits of dead ancestors stretching back seven generations return to earth. During this festival, Cambodians again return to their homeland to visit pagodas – seven are recommended – to pray, receive blessings and give offerings to monks, mainly in the form of food. The belief is that these offerings are passed onto their dead ancestors.

Bamboal Krobei

Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

On the final day of Pchum Ben, a small village about 40 kilometres (24.8 miles) from Phnom Penh – Vihear Sour Cheung in Kandal province – is transformed into a hive of activity as people flock from the surrounding areas to watch buffalo and horse racing.

Animals will be decorated with colour as people race them along a dirt track. People see this as a form of entertainment for the spirits that have come back to earth, with all contestants spending time in pagodas praying before the race starts at 6 am. It is followed by Cambodian wrestling.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Check Out The Most Popular Festivals Celebrated Annually In Cambodia

Heralding the start of the rice-growing season, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, called Preah Reach Pithi Chrot Preah Neangkol in Khmer, is a tradition used to forecast the forthcoming growing season and sow the seeds for successful crops ahead. 

The King usually leads the rituals and will traditionally till a plot of land with a plough pulled by oxen. After three rounds, the animals are allowed to fodder on a choice of rice, corn, sesame seeds, green beans, grass, water, and wine. 

   
   

What they choose to eat will predict the outcome for the year ahead. 

Grains signal good yields for those crops. Wine suggests a slump in crime, water predicts flooding, and eating the grass is seen as an upcoming spread of animal disease.

   
   

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