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  • Chat Preah Nengkal

    Chat Preah Nengkal

    Chat Preah Nengkal, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, is an ancient Cambodian agricultural rite that takes place in front of the National Museum, near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The ceremony is held in early May each year and all banks, ministries and embassies are closed during the event. Cambodians have a number of traditional rituals for forecasting the weather and determining whether harvests will be fruitful. Chat Preah Nengkal is the ancient royal rite marking the start of the rice-growing season. In the ritual sacred oxen plough a patch of ceremonial ground so that Brahmins can sow some rice seed. Once the job is done the sacred animals are offered a selection of food, including rice, beans, grass and rice whisky, and the royal soothsayers make predictions for the harvest based on the appetites and food selection of the oxen. Although the Royal Ploughing Ceremony may not be as festive or exciting as some other Cambodian festivals it is interesting to see this ancient ritual practiced and if you are in Phnom Penh at the time it takes place it is well worth taking part in the event and celebrations. Before the ritual is performed there is an impressive ceremonial procession.

  • Water and Moon Festival

    Water and Moon Festival

    This traditional festival is Cambodia's Mardi Gras and Carnival rolled into one, an exuberant celebration marked by three days of boat races and partying on the southern end of the Tonle Sap, the largest freshwater lake in Asia, and indeed all over Cambodia. The three day festival is the biggest and most spectacular event on the Cambodian calendar and locals and tourists flock from far and wide to the capital, Phnom Penh, and other hot spots to enjoy the pageantry, partying, fireworks and boat races. Although smaller than the mammoth celebrations in the capital, festivities and races are also held in Siem Reap, near Angkor Wat. The festival heralds the start of the fishing season and coincides with the reversal of the current in the Tonle Sap river, which flows uphill for half the year. There are illuminated floats, celebrations of the full moon, and various feasts to support the boat races. Rowing has a rich history in Cambodia as it was a vital component of the ancient Khmer civilization's military prowess. Hundreds of boats compete in this annual festival, decorated with the traditional dragon heads and each bearing up to 40 rowers. The racing of the pirogue boats is fast, loud and energetic and the atmosphere at the event is jubilant and celebratory, making the Water and Moon festival one of the most popular times to visit Cambodia.