Each country has its own unique national culture. Cambodia, a small country in Southeast Asia, also has a very unique national culture that makes visitors feel curious. The Cambodian calendar is dotted with festivals and holidays with a staggering 28 making the country the country with the highest number of public holidays in the world. What do you know about traditional Cambodian festivals, aside from a few international ones? Below we will introduce a famous festival in Cambodia for your reference.
Famous festival in Cambodia
Cambodians like to have a reason to celebrate, an attribute evident in the calendar, which is packed with holidays. While some holidays pass relatively unnoticed, many are packed with festivals and steeped in tradition, making them a great time to experience the rich Cambodian culture first-hand.
Khmer New Year – April
Cambodian New Year is also known as Songkran New Year in Southeast Asia. Khmer people often call it Choul Chnam Thmey– is one of the biggest celebrations in Cambodia. The festival usually takes place in mid-April and is held over three days to mark the safe harvest of the crop and welcome the rainy season. During this time, most Cambodians return to their homeland to spend time with family- for many, this is the first of two annual home visits.
On these days, Cambodians will go to the temple to clean the house, go to the temple and give gifts to each other. Young and old splash water at each other to mark the occasion. Wat Phnom (in Phnom Penh) and Angkor Wat (in Siem Reap) are the main sites of celebration.
Water Festival – October or November
Another famous festival in Cambodia is the Water Festival or Bon Om Touk. The festival is held in December of the Buddhist calendar and is a traditional festival of Cambodians, held to celebrate the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the fishing season. It is also a way for Cambodians to appreciate the rivers – the lifeline of the country that provide them with water to have fertile farming and fishing lands.
In order to pray for crops for the next year and thank the water god for bringing abundant water and natural fertilizer to the world during the rainy season, people organize spectacular boat racing activities along the Mekong River, yachts and festivals moon watching at night. Phnom Penh is where the action is concentrated. Kings, queens and officials sit in the observatory built by the river to watch the game and enjoy the night view. Thousands of people from all over the world flock to Phnom Penh to participate in activities. The celebration lasted for 3 days.
Ancestors’ Day – September
The next famous festival in Cambodia- Ancestors Day or Pchum Ben, is Cambodia’s major religious celebration. Ancestors’ death anniversary is celebrated from October 1 to October 15 according to the Buddhist calendar (usually in September of the new calendar). During Pchum Ben, Cambodians will visit the temples – there are up to seven different temples to offer food to the monks, who will pass the food on to the spirits. The main purpose of the ceremony is to track down the souls of the dead to worship their ancestors, but with Cambodian and more religious colors. The celebration usually lasts for 15 days and people won’t go to work for about 7 days.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony – April/May
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony or Pithi Chrat Preah Neanng Korl is considered an ancient royal rite of Cambodia. It marks the beginning of the rice growing season and is a way to forecast the weather and determine the upcoming harvest. The ceremony will be held outside the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh in the fourth lunar month, the King or a chosen representative arrives at a plot of land with a plow pulled by two oxen.
After three rounds of plowing, the animals were given a choice of food in the form of rice, corn, green beans, sesame seeds, freshly cut grass, water and rice wine. What the cow decides to eat determines the outlook for the next year’s harvest. For example, if bulls drink alcohol it predicts an increase in crime while drinking water indicates flooding and grass predicts widespread livestock diseases.
Festival of the Monks – February
The Festival of the Monks, or Meak Bochea, is the most important festival of monks in Cambodia and therefore tops the list of Cambodian festivals. On this day, monks across Cambodia celebrate the moment in history when the Buddha preached to 1,250 monks spontaneously gathered at Rajagaha Valuwan Vihara, where the Buddha went into retreat. This marks the beginning of all religious festivals in Cambodia. Theravada Buddhists gather in a procession at Dhammakaya, a temple in Khlong Luang, meditate & pray in the morning, then circle the central altar twice with incense, candles and flowers under the night sky full moon.
To sum up, Cambodia is one of the countries with new and attractive tourist destinations in the world. The different festivals in Cambodia are celebrated in a very unique way, making for a great experience for all the visitors who plan to make a trip to Cambodia on these particular days. Above are the most famous festival in Cambodia, each festival has its own character, creating many interesting things for tourists coming here.