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Cambodian Water Festival

Water Festival

The Origin

In the language of the Cambodians "Water Festival" sounds like Bon Om Tuk. This is one of the most revered holidays of the locals and is celebrated in November, and continues for the whole three days. The celebration starts on the first day and will only become more active and bigger with every following day.  The main active part of the holiday starts in the capital of Cambodia, the city of Phnom Penh. But the festive celebrations are held in Siem Reap. Boats are painted in colors that symbolize the twenty-one provinces of Cambodia. Enchanting show to some extent is a symbol of invincible water rearguard of the ancient Khmer empire. The history of the holiday is associated with the name of the Cambodian King Jayavarman II


The Cambodian water festival takes place on the Mekong River. Tonle Sap River, joining the Mekong River with the Lake Tonle Sap changes its direction twice a year. Therefore, the festival’s second name is also the Feast of Turning Water. It is a unique natural phenomenon which at the elder times was considered a true wonder, and till now the local inhabitants still feel very acquainted to the holiday. After the fall of the water level the muddy land is formed on which it is possible to obtain a rich harvest of rice. However, as it is a very big and important holiday for Cambodians, local people during the festival do not work. If you plan to visit this event, don’t forget to take a portable freezer to cool down you drinks and keep some food.

Water FestivalWater festival souvenirs are wreaths with candles, they have their own history. Wreaths with lit candles on them Cambodians are putting on the water, and in the evening appears daunting in its beauty picture: the surface of the water is glittering with light and bright colored reflections.

The Main Events of the Festival

The centerpiece of the festival is owned by boat regatta. Participating boats are colored in a variety of colors. Though each boat has a common detail of decoration – an image of an eye - a kind of talisman of protection against evil spirits. There is also another common for all the boats details - the head of the snake that adorns the front of the boat is a symbol of fertility and water.

According to some legends, the festival marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the season for the fishermen, on the other one – the Water Festival is a very unique way of Khmer empire to say thank you to the god of water, who is essential for life, and the ancestors. The holiday includes three parts: the boat regatta, launching wreath with candles and sacred ceremony of welcoming the moon. Water Festival is a holiday filled with the spirit of the great history of the Khmer people. He continues the tradition of Cambodia, coming from ancient times. 

Cambodian Water Festival is the most important festival on the Khmer calendar. This is one of the most important events of Cambodia. Every year in November, millions of people from different countries come to Phnom Penh to the shores of the Mekong and Tonle Sap rivers to admire this extravagant event or participate in a traditional boat regatta. Water Festival is accompanied by a variety of public festivals. During the festival Phnom Penh gathers more than half of the population of Cambodia.

And to uderstand how this festival look like here the video of Cambodia water festival of 2013:

New Of Cambodia