6 Traditional Festivals in Cambodia


Every country has its own unique national culture. Cambodia, as a small country in Southeast Asia, also has its ethnic culture which makes you feel curious and fresh. Apart from some international festivals, what do you know about traditional Cambodian festivals? If you want to travel to Cambodia, it is helpful to know some traditional Cambodian festivals.

In Cambodia, there are many festivals throughout the year, including New Year of Cambodia, Water Festival, Kite Festival, Fasting Festival, and Rainy Season. The Cambodian National Church is Buddhism, and most festivals are related to the Buddhist calendar. Ancestors' Day (Pchum Ben), the Water Festival (Bon Om Tuk) and the New Year (Khmer New Year) are the three most important festivals in Cambodia.


1、New Year (Khmer New Year) in Cambodia - April

The Cambodian New Year is also called the Songkran Festival in Southeast Asia. The festival is usually in mid-April and it is celebrated for three days. The Cambodians go to the temple to get fragrant, sweep the house to remove dust and give each other gifts. Young and old splash water upon one another to mark the occasion. Wat Phnom (in Phnom Penh) and Angkor Wat (in Siem Reap) are the main venues for celebrations. Most temples are frantic during the New Year.

Unlike most Cambodian holidays which follow the lunar calendar, New Year in Cambodia follows the Gregorian calendar - celebrated for three days from April 13 to April 15.


2、Water Festival in Cambodia - October or November

The festival held in December of Buddhist calendar, is a traditional Cambodian festival, which is established to celebrate the end of the rainy season and the retreat of the river. It marks the end of the rainy season and the arrival of the fishing season. The Mekong River rises in the rainy season and brings a lot of fertile silt, which is beneficial to agricultural production. In order to pray for the harvest of the next year and thank the water god for bringing abundant water and natural fertilizer to the world during the rainy season, people hold grand regatta activities along the Mekong River, tour boats and moon festivals at night. The center of the event is in Phnom Penh. Kings, queens, and officials sit on the viewing platform built by the river to watch the game and watch the night scene. Thousands of people from all over the country to Phnom Penh to participate in activities. The celebration lasts for 3 days.


3、Ancestors' Day in Cambodia - September

Ancestors' Day is held from 1 October to 15 October in the Buddhist calendar (usually in the new calendar in September). It is roughly equivalent to China’s Qing Ming Festival. The main purpose is to trace the dead souls to worship the ancestors but with more Cambodian characteristics and religious colors. The last 3 days of the festival are statutory holidays, and neither the government nor the private sector usually go to work for about 7 days. The celebration lasts for 15 days.


4、Royal Ploughing Day in Cambodia - April/May

Royal Ploughing Ceremony held in the fourth month of the lunar calendar is a traditional agricultural festival held under the leadership of the royal family. It marks the beginning of the traditional rice season. The farming ceremony is held in front of the National Museum near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. It is said that the royal cow at the ceremony can use the nose to predict the quality of the annual banker's harvest. After the king or the royal family go to the field to help the plow, they take the cattle to the rice, beans, corn, grass, water and wine prepared in advance and let them choose. According to what the cow eats, predict the harvest prospects of the year.


5、Buddha's "Birthday" in Cambodia

On the June 15th of the Buddhist calendar, this is the day to celebrate the Buddha’s birthday, enlightenment and nirvana. The celebrations in Angkor Wat are the most grand. In this day, the monks march in parade in the Angkor Wat with candlelight.


6、Kite Festival in Cambodia

Kite has a long history in Cambodia. According to Cambodian historical records, the Royal Kite Festival is held in the annual Buddhist calendar for the 12th to 15th (December 12). In the grand festival of the Kite Festival, the national and urban areas must hold a kite-flying ceremony in the open space or in the fields where the rice is harvested. First of all, people ask the laymen to chanting, worship the gods, pray for the wind to dry the fields as soon as possible and blow off the dust on the rice so that the farmers can harvest the crops. After the chanting is completed, people begin to fly kites.

In addition to flying kites, the Kite Festival also has "fighting kites” activity." "Kite flying" is a very interesting game. People stick some broken glass bottles on the kite line and try their best to hug others' lines with their own lines, then violently pull them to break the other people's kite lines, and the broken line is defeated. Another method of fighting is to put a sharp bamboo pole on the front end of the kite, use it to smash other people's kite paper, and smash the paper and the kite will admit defeat. The Kite Festival is a lively festival in Cambodia. People often play until late at night.

In addition, there are many festivals in Cambodia that are also very special. If you choose to go to Cambodia during the festival, you may see a different Cambodia. Joining the carnival is also an unforgettable game.

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