Festivals & Events

No

Date/Month

 

Event & Festival

1

January 01

-

International New Year Day

2

January 07

-

Victory Day Over Genocidal

3

February 14

-

Meak Bochea Day

4

March 08

-

International Women’s Day

5

April 14, 15, 16

-

Khmer New Year Day (Choul Chhnam Khmer)

6

May 01

-

International Labor Day

7

May 13  

-

Visakh Bochea Day

8

May 13, 14, 15

-

Royal Birthday of the King Sihamoni

9

May 17

-

Royal Ploughing Day

10

June 01

-

International Children Day

11

June 18

-

Royal Birthday of the King Mother Monineath Sihanouk

12

Sep 22, 23, 24

-

Pchum Ben Day 

13

September 24

-

Constitutional and King’s Coronation Day

14

October 15

-

Commemoration Day of King Norodom Sihanouk

15

October 23

-

Paris Peace Agreement Day

16

October 29

-

Royal Coronation of the King

17

Nov 05, 06, 07

-

Water Festival and Moon Festival and Boat Racing

18

November 09

-

Independence Day

19

December 10

-

International Human Rights Day

—  Water and Moon Festivals

—  Royal Ploughing Ceremony

—  Pchom Ben Day

—  Khmer New Year (Jol Chnam Khmer)

Water and Moon Festivals

For the people of Cambodia, the Water Festival and Bon Om Touk (The Pirogue Racing Festival) in Phnom Penh is the most magnificent traditional festival. For three days Phnom Penh citizens, foreign tourists and peasants from various provinces gather in the capital to celebrate festival night day.

The water festival had background for so long time. The water festival ceremony is the army training to do attest of the army for preparing to do a battle. In the history, Khmer King always does the battle with enemies by sailing. So he prepares this water festival ceremony every year to choose Champion of sailing battle, as in Bayon TempleBatteay Chhmar in thePreah Bat Jayvarman VII. We had seen a lot of statues about sailing battle under leading ofJayvarman VII. The custom of this is to have from then up to the present.

On the other hand the water is celebrated every years in November to honor the victory of Cambodian Naval forces in the reign of King JayvarmanVII, during Angkor period of the 12th century.

And this ceremony is to history about military exercise of our navy force in the course of national defense and to express thanks to the 3 Buddhist symbols Gods and holy thing which helped us and agriculture field and serves as an opportunity to pray for our lord for the happiness and sufficient rain for rice cultivation.

Besides the regatta, the water festival also includes three other ceremonies: Illuminated float (Loy Pratip), Moon salutation (Sampeas Preah Khe) and the eating of pestle new special rice with banana or coconut juice (Ork Ambok). The ceremony last three days to provide opportunity for people to by part in competition that there were to types of boats from near and far of provinces, taking part in the races, the pirogue and the rowing boat. Each boat was manned by about thirty to forty men or women. The boat with a man or a woman dancing softly and gracefully to the rhythm of the drums on the bow as an encouragement to the rowers moved swiftly through the water.

There as the race winners will be rewarded a lot of  good such as: drink, money, clothes, rice, cigarettes and the commission of the boat racing day must seek donations in order to provide this prize for participants.

During the nighttime at about seven o'clock the river was lit by jazzy illuminated boats, which floated slowly, and smoothly on the water's surface. Each of them was equipped with thousands of flashy neon lights arranged in different colorful, fancy patterns representing state institutions, ministries and services.

After a little time fireworks and multi color were lit to entertain people. Some of people made loud noises. They burst into different shapes and colors in the sky under the clapped and cheered with joy each time at the sight of the fireworks.

Finally the water festival is the festivity for the Cambodian people who celebrated every years and going for a walk during the ceremony days really refreshed our mood. The lively festive atmosphere helped relive our tension and trouble.

Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Although there are various other scientific methods to forecast the weather and to determine harvests, Cambodians have their methods to foretell the future. Through traditional rituals that are often ceremoniously celebrated nationwide, Cambodians are warned of calamities, assured of good harvest and so forth.

The Royal Ploughing ceremony, or Pithi Chrat Preah Neanng Korl in Khmer, and the Festival of Water and full Moon Salutation, know as Pithi Bonn Om Touk and Ak Ambok Sampeah preah Kher in Khmer, are such ceremonies. Predictions gleaned from these traditional ceremonies for the coming year are taken very seriously. 

The Festival of Water and Full Moon Salutation is celebrated usually in late October. Drippings from burning candles predict rainfall distribution to provinces across the country. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony predicts the weather, epidemics and farming conditions. 

By observing what feed the royal oxen choose after the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, Cambodians believe they can predict a range of events including epidemics, floods, good harvests and excessive rainfall.

This year, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony will be held on May 28 at the Veal Preahmein Square, situated across the road from the northern perimeter of the Royal Palace.

At the end of a symbolic Ploughing procession before His Majesty King Norodom Sihanouk, the royal oxen were relieved of their harnesses and led to seven golden trays containing rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water and wine to feed. The royal oxen chose to eat out of only three trays this year and because their feast consisted of varying percentages of rice and corn while they largely ignored the trays of sesame seeds, grass, water and wine, prognostications were as follows: Farmers would enjoy a moderate output for their rice harvest but good yields in secondary crop production, especially corn and beans. Because the royal oxen only sniffed on the tray of water and turned away from the wine, the prediction was made that farmers would not suffer any serious floods.

Every year, Cambodian farmers anxiously await the predictions at the end of this ritualistic ceremony, which they observe with strong faith and belief. Most Cambodians today still consult traditional manuals before making any major decisions regarding business matters or meeting important persons, etc.

The Royal Ploughing Ceremony has been observed for many centuries at the initiative of an earlier Khmer king who had paid great attention to farming conditions of the people. Traditionally, the Pithi Chrat Pheah Neang Korl is performed in the month of the Khmer calendar and marks the beginning of the rainy season in Cambodia.

When asked, most Cambodians stand staunchly by these traditional methods of predicting the future and vouch for their accuracy. It is comforting to believe that the angels are still watching over us. As they say in Cambodia, long live the Khmer traditions. Long Live Cambodia.

Pchom Ben Day

October is the month when Cambodian people celebrate the festival of Phchum Ben. Together with Khmer New Year in April, Phchum Ben is the most important festival in the Khmer religious calendar. Cambodians have faithfully observed the festival every year for as long as anyone can remember.

The word 'Ben' in Khmer means to collect; 'Ben' also means to cup or mould cooked rice into portions. To 'Ben Baht' means to collect food to give to monks. The word 'Phchum' means to congregate or to meet together. Regardless how busy they may be during the fifteen days of Phchum Ben.

Cambodian people try not to miss a visit to the pagoda to dedicate food and offerings to the dead.

The festival's final day, September 28th, is the actual day of Phchum Ben, when people traditionally meet together at the pagoda, said the Venerable Ly Sovy of Lang Ka pagoda.

By doing this, Cambodians show respect for their ancestors. Everyone goes to the pagoda every year to honor this tradition, and nobody complains.

"According to [Buddhist] belief, people feel sorry for and remember their relatives who have passed away," Ly Sovy said. "They may be their parents, grandparents, a sister, a brother, daughter or son."

Om Sam Ol, a monk at Steung Meanchey pagoda, explained more about the beliefs behind the festival: "During Phchum Ben, souls and spirits come to receive offerings from their living relatives," he said.

"It is believed that some of the dead receive punishment for their sins and burn in hell - they suffer a lot and are tortured there," he added. "Hell is far from people; those souls and spirits cannot see the sun; they have no clothes to wear, no food to eat," Om Sam Ol continued. "Phchum Ben is the period when those spirits receive offerings from their living relatives and perhaps gain some relief. Relatives consecrate and dedicate food and other offerings to them."

Everyone goes to the pagoda because they don't want the spirits of dead members of their family to come to seek offerings at pagodas in vain. It is believed that wondering spirits will go to look in seven different pagodas and if those spirits can not find their living relatives' offering in any of those pagodas, they will curse them, because they cannot eat food offered by other people," the monk said.

"When the living relatives offer the food to the spirit, the spirit will bless them with happiness", he added.

According to the monk, legend has it that Phchum Ben came about because relatives of King Bath Pempeksa defied religious customs and ate rice before the monks did during a religious ritual. After their death, they became evil spirits.

He explained that later when a monk known as Kokak Sonthor gained enlightenment and became a Buddha on earth, all those evil spirits went to ask him "when can we eat?"

The Buddha said "you have to wait for the next Buddha in the Kathakot Buddhist realm. In this realm, evil spirits cannot eat."

When the next monk, Kamanou, achieved enlightenment and became a Buddha, all the evil spirits came again to ask the same question, and he gave the same answer as the previous Buddha.

Later another monk, Kasakbour, achieved enlightenment and became a Buddha, and the hungry evil spirits again asked him the same question. The Buddha told them the same thing - to wait for the next Buddha.

The final Buddha, Preah Samphot - also known also as Samanakkodom - said to the evil spirits, "Wait for your relative, King Bath Pempeksa, to offer merits and dedication. When the dedication is made, the food will be yours to eat."

King Pempeksa finally made an offering, but he did not dedicate the offering to the spirits of his relatives. All the spirits that were related to him cried that night. And when King Bath Pempeksa went to the Valovan pagoda to visit the Buddha, he was told by the Buddha that, "All the spirits of your relatives are crying, demanding food. The spirits should get food in the realm of Kathakot. Although you offered food and did good deeds, you did not dedicate the food and good deeds to them." So King Bath Pempeksa made another dedication and offering, and this time he dedicated the food and merits to his relatives. The evil spirits received the dedication and were finally reborn into paradise.

"It is believed that some of the dead receive punishment for their sins and burn in hell - they suffer a lot and are tortured there," he added. "Hell is far from people; those souls and spirits cannot see the sun; they have no clothes to wear, no food to eat," Om Sam Ol continued. "Phchum Ben is the period when those spirits receive offerings from their living relatives and perhaps gain some relief. Relatives consecrate and dedicate food and other offerings to them."

Khmer New Year (Jol Chnam Khmer)

People in the world always say New Year celebrate their happy festival. They usually schedule and prepare it differently, depend on their belief and tradition. For Cambodian have hold it since past till the present.

The reason that cause to finish the old year for the are that: There have been some people believe that there is a story as following one time there were a person  "KABEL MORHAPROHM" who asked three questions to "THORM BAL KOMA, the millionaire's on, who had known the three percepts of "TRAI VITH" and ail kinds of the animal's languages. They all had promised to cut the head of the person who failed the exam "THORM BAL" have no way to find the solution, he felled very hopeless, fortunately, there were two eagles which had spoken about these questions to make "THORM BAL" could find the way to settle the problems. The time of gambling arrived "THORM BAL " had spoken that:

1. In the morning, the happiness is on the face that is why all people have to wash their face.

2. In the afternoon, the happiness is on the breath to make the people take water to wash the breath.

3. In the evening, the happiness is on the foot to make the people wash their food in the evening.

The result had broken out "KABEL MORHAPROHM" had to cut his head to give to the oldest had take it go around PRAS SOMERU mountain about 60 minutes after they all bring it to put in the center of KUHA KUNTH MALAY of KAILA mountain. In the end of the year the 7 females angles had changed their turn to take the head and go around the mountain every year till the present. This is the reason to cause "SANG KRAN" or changing the old year into the New Year.

Cambodian people are playing the Chaul Choung game in New Year Day.

Some people have believed that for a period of one year the people always face the problems like diseases or serious obstacles to make them unhappy. When the one of the year they all had celebrated a great festival called "HAPPY NEW YEAR" and the people always prepare them-self, clean the house, and take food to offer the monks.

They wear new clothes and play popular games.

The festival usually is in 3 days period. The first day is  "MOHA SANGKRAN" the second day is "VORNBORTH" and the third day is  "THNGAI LIENG SAK". For that time they start to change the old year when the angle comes to get the duties from the former angle were schedule clearly.

WHEN IS THE KHMER NEW YEAR'S DAY CELEBRATED?

Since the period of Norkor Thom, the Khmer people used the Lunar calendar (The revolution of the moon), that why they dated Mekseh (name of the first lunar month, from mid-November to mid-December) as the Khmer New Year's month, and is the first month of the year. And Kadek (name of the last Lunar month) is the second one.

After that, they turned to use the Solar calendar (The revolution of the sun) as the most, and they dated the Chetr (5th Lunar month) is the New Year's month, when the sun gets to the Mes Reasey. The Khmer New Year's day is often celebrated on the 13th April (Chetr), but sometime it is celebrated on the 14th April, because of the Solar calendar. The almanac which is base on the Solar calendar is called "Simple arrival or Sangkran Thormada.

And the almanac which is based on the Lunar calendar, because the Lunar calendar is relevant to the Buddha's speeches.

Buddhist devotees pour water over the statue of a revered Buddhist monk during the New Year Celebrations.

Beside, the Khmer New Year's day that is base on the Lunar calendar isn't regular, because we sometimes celebrate it in the night of the waxing moon (Khneut), or in the night of the waning moon. However, we usually celebrate it around one month.

It means that we don't do it before 4th Keut of Khe Pisak (name of the Solar day) of Khe Chetr and not after 4th Keut of Khe Pisak (name of the 6th Lunar month), so that some of the Khmer people celebrate their New Year's day in Khe Chetr, such as the documents written by Mr. Chio-Takran, Khmer people celebrate this celebration with playing the hand-scarf-throwing game and they gather the statues of Buddha from everywhere to bath. In the other hand, the inscription in stone at Preah Khan is also stated this.

Talking about there celebrations in this New Year's Day. The Khmer people celebrate them traditionally as below.

A few days before the Khmer New Year's day, they prepared some food, clean their house, bought some news and so on. When the New Year's Day comes, they prepare something such as 5 candles, 5 incenses, a pair of 5 Baysey, a pair of Baysey Baklam, a pair of Slathor (a ceremonial ornament made with a banana tree trunk bake), a tray of cigarettes, some flowers and some fruits to sacrifice to the new heaven. When every is ready, they sit together near that place and light the candles to pray for happiness from the new heaven and start to pray before breaking each other. On the other hand, we have different celebrations during these 3 days of New Year's Day.

On the first day, they take some food to offer the monks at the monastery in the evening, they gather the sand to build up a sandal mountain around the pagoda or around the bany tree in the early evening, and they some drink to the monks and invite them to bany.

On the second day, children give some new clothes and money to their parents and grandparents. They also give some gift to their maids and poor people. In the evening, they go to build up the sandal mountain and start to bany that they consider it a Cholamony Chedey and ask the monks to bony and offer them the food to dedicate this sin to the spirit of the ancestor.

In the morning of the third day, they also invite the monks to bany for the sandal mountain. And in the evening, they bath the monks and statue of Buddha. During this third day, the people also play some traditional games such as the hand-scarf-throwing game, they kick the nuts game, the tug of war game, trot dancing (Battambang, Siem Reap). They also dance some traditional dancing such as Rorm Vong, Rorm Khbach…. etc.