May Cultural Celebrations: Visak Bochea, Royal Plowing Day


Visak Bochea or Buddhist day is one among the other important holidays in Cambodia that marks the birth, enlightenment and death of Sedetha Goutama. Traditionally, Visak Bochea always falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the 6th lunar month, and usually falls in May. On that day, Cambodians, especially seniors, usually visit temples in the early morning to offer food and sweets to the monks and listen to them preach. In some families, the sons would take this opportunity to commence their devotion to monkhood for a certain period of time in gratitude to their parents who gave birth to them here on earth.

The Royal Plowing Day is another traditional ceremony practiced since the early Khmer era. This ceremony is a welcoming sign to the growing season as well as to predict the harvest products they will receive within the year. The ceremony is always held right in front of the National Museum on the land plot called “Veal Man”. The plowing starts in the morning time and usually led by high ranking officials. After three rounds of plowing, a small herd of ox is led to seven trays that contain rice, beans, corn, grass, sesame, alcohol and water. Then, the chief astrologist presents the fate of Cambodian harvest based on what the ox chose to eat. The plowing ceremony encourages the farmers in Cambodia with better harvests, and through this ceremony, Cambodians prepare to pick crops based on the predictions for the year.

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