A Change of Guard

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Wednesday, 25 May 2016

History of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony

Khmer Times/Va Sonyka Wednesday, 06 May 2015

The queen's representative sowing at the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in 2011 in Phnom Penh. (Photo: AKP)

PHNOM PENH, (Khmer Times) – The Royal Ploughing Ceremony,or Preah Reach Pithi Chrot Preah Neangkol, is one of the most important of Cambodia’s royal ceremonies. Every year Cambodians, especially those who work the land, wait for this day in May that the astrologers/astronomers have calculated according to the lunar phases. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony predicts the harvest of the seeds that they will soon sow. 

It is a national (bank) holiday in the Kingdom, and its historical origins lie in the fifth or sixth century.

The ceremony itself is not restricted to Cambodia but it also celebrated in Thailand. It marks the beginning of the rice growing season, when the rains start to abate. 

According to tradition the King, or a chosen representative, will till a plot of land with a plough pulled by two bulls. As the King is the first person to prepare a field, it the ceremony is a motivator for all others to start working their land. 

After three rounds with the plough, the beasts of burden are allowed to fodder. They have rice, corn, green beans, sesame seeds, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky to choose from.

The royal augurs read from outcome of the harvest from what the bulls eat. The bovines interest in the grains signal good yields for these plants. If the bulls drink wine it indicates an increase in crime, drinking water points to flooding, and the ingestion of the grass is seen as a prediction of widespread animal diseases. 

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