Bonn Chroat Preah Nongkoal

The Royal Ploughing ceremony, or the opening of the Sacred Furrow, is the first of the traditional agrarian festivals.

In times past, on an auspicious day determined by palace astrologists, the King traced the first furrows in the Capital's sacred rice field, thus inaugurating the ploughing season.

Today, the ritual is performed by a man, King of Meakh, who leads the yoke and plough, followed by a woman, Queen Me Hour, who sows seeds. After thrice circling the ricefield, the procession stops at a chapel where Brahmins invoke the protection of the Gods.

The sacred cows are unharnessed and guided to seven silver trays containing rice, corn, bean, and other edibles. Based on their choice, predictions are made for the coming year. If they choose the cereals, the harvest will be good. If they eat herbs, cattle diseases are to be feared. If they drink water, rain will be abundant and peace will reign; but if they drink alcohol, trouble will break out in the Kingdom.

Bonn Chaul Chhnam

The New Year's Festival spans three days following the end of the harvest season. Khmers clean and decorate their houses with an altar for offerings to the Devoda of the coming year. They also visit the temple with offerings. Then they play traditional games such as Angkunh, Chaol Chhoung, Leak Kansaeng, and tug of war.

Bonn Dak Ben & Bonn Phchoum Ben

Spirits Commemoration Festival is held for the spirits of the dead. Bonn Dak Ben--The offering of food to the monks--lasts for 15 days. The 15th day of the ceremony--the full moon--is called Bonn Phchoum Ben, the collection of the bens (offerings). During this celebration, if departed souls do not find their family making offerings at a wat, it is believed that the soul is cursed and will bother the descendent throughout the year.

Bonn Kathen

Another major religious festival in Cambodia lasting for 29 days after Bonn Phchoum Ben. Town and country folks march in a procession to the wat, where the monks are waiting to change their old saffron robes for the new ones offered during the festival. The ceremony brings spiritual merit to both lay people and the monks.

31 October
H.M. The King's Birthday

His Majesty Preah Bat Samdech Preah Norodom Sihanouk Varman, King of Cambodia, was born on 31 October 1922 in Phnom Penh. Every year, His Majesty's birthday is celebrated in regal fashion and the entire nation joins in to honor their King. The Royal Palace is open to the public, festivities take place throughout the capital and a grand fireworks display is organized at sundown along the river.

9 November
Independence Day

The ninth of November 1953 is the date Cambodia achieved independence from France. The occasion is marked each year by a gala parade in front of the Royal Palace, which includes floats, marching bands and other spectacles highlighting the nation's achievements. Cyclosare part of the fabric of life in Phnom Penh, life and leisure in Cambodia. They can be seen transporting almost anything from tourists to tires. Cambodia celebrated this major "sport" in February 1994 with its first annual four-hour cyclo race. Khmers and foreigners join in the fun.

Bonn Om Tuk

The three-day Water Festival draws tens of thousands of people to the river banks to celebrate the river's changing flow by watching a festive cavalcade of competitive boat races. The finish line symbolizes a gate that retains the water. Once the line is cut, water flows down the Mekong, commencing the fishing season. Other traditional ceremonies are the midnight meals of pounded rice and full moon celebration, with lighted flotillas and fireworks in the evening.