INTERESTING FESTIVALS IN CAMBODIA
1. Khmer New Year
Khmer New Year is one of the most important celebrations in Cambodia. This celebration marks the turn of the year in Khmer calendar as well as the end of harvest season. It lasts for three days and often starts on April 13th or 14th. These days, Cambodians decorate their house with flowers and prepare foods, drinks. This is the most delightful holiday of the year when farmers enjoy all their efforts and wait for a new monsoon season. Everyone return to their home, spend time with families, take part in some excited parties and go to pagodas. Throughout Khmer New Year, streets are animated with crowds of children playing traditional games such as Bay Khom, Leak Kanseng or Chab Kon Kleng.
2. Water Festival
In Khmer the annual Water festival called Bonn Om Toeuk. The 3-days festival commemorates the end of the country’s rainy season as well as the changing of the flow of Tonle Sap Lake. This vast festival probably is the most remarkable festival in Cambodian calendar. Over three days of the festival, thousands of people gather on the banks of Tonle Sap and Mekong River to watch boat races. The boat racing praises the strengths and the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire. Besides the happiness, the Water Festival is also the chaotic and exorbitant festival. In 2010, the tragic event took place during the last day of the festival left 347 people dead.
3. Pchum Ben or Soul Day
Pchum Ben is the most culturally and religiously significant event of the year. This 15-day holiday often lasts from the end of September to mid-October. This festival is dedicated to blessing the souls of ancestors, relatives, and friends who have passed away. During this time, Cambodians dress in white, visit temples and offer food to the monks. The offering of food is a meritorious act and is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. Cambodian also feed the foods to the hungry ghosts who could be their late ancestors or friends.
4. Royal Ploughing Day
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, or “Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal” in the Khmer language, is a royal rite held at the beginning of the sowing and planting season. Every year in May, this ceremony takes place at the park in front of the National Museum. According to the tradition, the King or a chosen representative will till a field with a plow pulled by two oxen. This activity seems like a motivation for all other to start and work hard on their land. After three rounds with the plow, oxen will be driven to seven golden trays containing rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water and wine to feed. Based on which foods the oxen eat, the Royal augur makes predictions for the season ahead.
5. Independence Day
This National holiday is held on November 9th, following the Water Festival and takes place at the site of the Independence Monument. Every year, Independence Day is a special and happy day for the whole nation because it celebrates the Khmer success over colonization. All streets will be decorated with bunting flags. A gala parade is held in front of the Royal Palace. In the evening, a huge fireworks display takes place near the riverbanks of the Royal Palace.
6. Another festival
Besides these five big festivals, Cambodia also has many traditional and interesting festivals that make tourist fell curious and fresh such as Angkor Festival, King Sihanouk’s Birthday Celebration, Chinese New Year or Chol Vassa – Buddhist Lent. All these festival and events make the unique ethnic culture of Cambodia.