Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Cambodians have their own methods to predict the future which is through traditional ceremonies. These ceremonies are often celebrated nationwide where Cambodians are assured of good harvest or reminded of natural calamities.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony, or Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal in Khmer language is one of the most important traditional ceremonies in Cambodia. The ceremony is commemorated to give blessings to the farming sector and to pray for a bountiful harvest season. Royal oxen play an important role in the ceremony. There is a deep astrological belief that royal oxen known in Khmer as Usapheak Reach, helped in determining the fate of the agricultural harvest each year. The ceremony takes place in the month of May which is the beginning of the rainy season and the planting season.
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony will be held at the Elephant Terrace in Siem Reap province on May 24 this year. The ceremony is usually led by the King or another high official.
Traditionally, the King of Cambodia ploughs the field while the Queen, sows seeds from behind. The sacred oxen are given a selection of food such as corn, rice and are given some beverages to consume. The royal soothsayers will then make a prediction on whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not, depending on what the royal oxen have eaten. At the end of the ritualistic ceremony, Cambodian farmers await the predictions which they observe with strong faith and belief.
Other Important Celebrations in May
Visaka Bochea Day (May 3)
It is often referred to as ‘Buddha’s birthday’ the holiday actually takes in the birth, enlightenment and passing of Buddha. The faithful attend pagoda, make offerings and engage in kind and charitable acts and reverent behavior. Thousands of monks gather together at the Bayon Temple to observe Buddha’s birthday.
King’s Birthday (May 13-15)
This national holiday was established to celebrate the birthday of HM King Norodom Sihamoni on May 14, 1953.