As for Cambodian people, water is so important. Thanks to the Mekong River, which runs through the country from the north to south, people can grow their own crops, catching fishes and the country can become home to an incredible array of extraordinary sights from waterfalls, river rapids, flooded forests, beautiful islands and the famous Irrawaddy (fresh water) dolphins. Therefore, the Cambodian spend three days on celebrating the Water Festival each year.
When is the Water Festival celebrated?
The Water Festival is usually celebrated on the 14th and 15th day of of November, which is the waxing moon and the 1st day of the waning moon in the mouth of kadek. The 15th day of the waxing moon is the last full moon day.
The rationale of celebrating Water Festival
The festival ushers in the fishing season, marks a change in the flow of the Tonle Sap and the ebbing-water season and is seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile and abundant fish.
At the height of the rainy season, the water of the Mekong River forces the Tonle Sap to reverse its current and to flow up to the Tonle Sap Lake. As the water of the Mekong River begins to subscribe, the swollen Tonle Sap Lake flows back to the Mekong River through the Tonle Sap and empties into the sea, which leaves behind vast quantities of fish. This, indeed, is a remarkable phenomenon of the Tonle Sap.
The water festival is truly a wonder to behold because of its myriad of vibrant colour and excitement. On these days, there will be three ceremonies underpin the entire occasion, including: Loy Pratip, Sampeas Preah Khé and Auk Ambok.
The first ceremony is called Loy Pratip, on which curious visitors will be amazed by the evening fluvial parade, featuring beautifully-illuminated boats lighting up the waterways. Each government institution will sponsor a boat on the parade.
When the moon reaches the fullest shape, people will turn to the second ceremony, the Sampeas Preah Khé. People will salute to the moon, give thanks to the moon on Bon Om Tok, and pray for the bountiful harvest ahead.
The last ceremony of the water festival is Auk Ambok. At midnight, celebrants gather at temples to eat “Ambok” (“flattened rice”), which is basically rice fried with the husk still intact. They then pound to remove the husk, and mixed the flattened rice with banana and coconut.