Cambodia, the Kingdom of Wonder, is filled with not only historical trails and sights that will bring you to the olden world but it’s also packed with festivals celebrating their culture. Each of these festivals are rich in history and completely emphasizes the beauty of their society.
Get to know more about the best festivals in the country that will make you want to visit in this article.
Royal Ploughing Ceremony
Start of festival: May
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony celebrates the beginning of the season to grow rice and officially begin farming. It is commonly known as Preah Reach Pithi Chrot Preah Neangkol and it is one of the greatest festivals in the country. This is a tradition originated by a previous Khmer king and held every beginning of May.
People offer seven plates of food to two royal oxen and at this time, predictions are made regarding how the farming season will go. Besides this, everyone is merry during the parade, dance, and when they eat the festival food.
Start of festival: 15 days after the 10th month in Khmer calendar
Pchum Ben Day is commonly known as Ancestors’ Day. It’s a festival where people pay tribute to their family elders through food, offerings, and celebrating with their family. Visiting the temple is necessary during the 15 days of the festival and making sure you spend time with your family.
It’s one of the biggest and most anticipated events in a year because it’s a time where locals remember and honor their ancestors of up to seven generations. This honor extends to current family members to pay respect as well. Additionally, whether you’re a local or foreigner, you can join in this sombre festival.
Khmer New Year
Start of festival: April 13 or 14
The Khmer New Year which signifies the end of the harvest season is the biggest festival in Cambodia. Otherwise known as Choul Chnam Thmey, locals celebrate this with their families by doing purification ceremonies and going to the temple. They also play traditional games between families and friends at this time to properly celebrate the end of the season. Additionally, the hard working farmers are further celebrated by having time off from the field to be with their families.
Cambodian New Year originated from Brahman belief before Buddhism became an integral part of the festival. This is celebrated annually for three days. According to the ancient horoscope used in the Khmer empire, the “MohaSangkran”, the festival can begin either on April 13 or 14. For the year 2022, it will begin on April 14.
The entirety of the New Year brings different ways to celebrate with your family as seen below:
- Moha Sangkran → This is the first day of the festival where people are expected to clean and prepare their house with decorations. Drinks and fruits are set on the table as well in preparation for the New Angels who are believed will come to care for the world for a year. Once home preparation is done, a separate food is set and offered to the monks.
Sand mountains are created in the evening around the temple or surrounding a bany tree.
- Wanabot → The second day honors your older relatives, from your parents to grandparents with gifts to give thanks. Following this, employers can also offer gifts to their employees. Once all this is done, everyone goes to the temple to make sand mountains and receive blessings specifically to get peace and be happy.
- Leung Sakk → The third day of the festival marks the beginning of the following year. People celebrate this by heading first thing in the day to the temple, creating a mountain of sand and receiving blessings.
Then to signal the end of the festival, Cambodians do the last ceremony known as “Pithi Srang Preah”. During this time, they give a special bath to elders, parents, monks, and Buddha status as an apology for any wrongdoings.
Start of festival: Late October to early November
The Water Festival is a grand event in Cambodia that has lively activities to celebrate the beginning of the fishing season. It’s commonly known as “Bon Om Touk” in Khmer and marks the end of the rainy season as well. This event is one of the most anticipated festivals of the year because of the numerous delicious food prepared and annual boat race. There are more than 400 boats that participate in this race, competing to get across the river first. At the bank of the river, people cheer and watch with bated breaths to see who will win the race.
The boat race is an integral part of the celebrations since the festival also marks the time that Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers’ water flow turn directions. It’s a three day event that begins annually in late October to early November!
Join in the festivities
Besides the festivals listed above, there are more celebrations in Cambodia that will make you want to visit. Learn more about this beautiful country here in because it’s packed with a rich heritage that you can see until today when you visit!