What: A religious cum civil ceremony marking the beginning of the rice-planting season in Cambodia
Where: Veal Preahmein Square, near the Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia
When: May 2, 2011
The Royal Ploughing Ceremony kicks off the year’s rice planting season for Cambodia’s farmers. Cambodians believe the ceremony can account for events like floods, bumper crops, famine, and illness.
It dates back to the mid-1200s, descended from an ancient Hindu ritual designed to ensure a good harvest. It continues today in both Cambodia and neighboring Thailand.
The Ceremony takes place at the capital’s at the Veal Preahmein Square near the Palace. Here, royal representatives lead sacred cows yoked to a plough, circling the field three times.
The procession ends at a shrine where, after the gods are called to protect the harvest, the cows are led to seven trays containing foodstuffs like rice, corn, sesame seeds, grass, beans, wine, and water. Predictions will be made depending on what the cows eat from the trays. The Tourismcambodia.com site explains one year’s prediction this way:"Because [the royal oxen feasted on] 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."
For details on this event, you can reach the official Cambodia Tourism Ministry on this website. You may also want to call them at +855 23 216 666, or reach them at the following address:
Tourism of Cambodia
262 Monivong Boulevard
Khan Daun Penh