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The Cambodian Water Festival

Bon Om Touk is a second largest Cambodian ceremony after Cambodian New Year and it is an exciting celebration that occurs once a year in Cambodia. Bon Om Touk, also known as the Cambodian Water Festival, celebrates the reversal of the Tonle Sap River. The Tonle Sap River reverses twice a year, lining up with Cambodia’s rainy and dry seasons. When the water from the Mekong River flows into the Tonle Sap River, large lake forms. This takes up a vast amount of land. When the river reverses, however, there are silt deposits that enrich the soil for farming and the fish are abundant.

Bon Om Touk occurs on different dates each year, depending on the natural state of the water reversal. This year, the holiday will take place from November 5th-8th. When visiting Cambodia for the Water Festival, you can see many festivities including racing traditional long boats (also known as dragon boats), traditional dance & music performances, and of course join in with eating & drinking classic Cambodian dishes.

A special dish for the holidays that one can indulge in is Ambok. Ambok is a roasted rice dish with coconut & banana. This typically lasts 3 days, with each night illuminated by light-filled long boats along the river. There is also a lot of spirituality within these 3 days, where people pray for a year of good crops & rice harvest.

The Cambodian Water Festival

Posted on December 2, 2016 in Khmer Traditions