Water and Moon Festival and Boat Racing
For the people of Cambodia, the Water Festival and Bon Om Touk 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 and 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 Temple, Batteay Chhmar in the Preah Bat Jayvarman VII. We had seen a lot of statues about sailing battle under leading of Jayvarman 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.
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.
(Documents from Ministry of Tourism)
(Translate to Khmer for learning)