The Cambodian water festival which is known as Bun Oum Tuk in khmer will take place as normal in 2016. This big event was cancelled the following three years due to the tragedy on the last day of the water festival 2010 on the bridge connecting Phnom Penh to Diamond island which caused the death of 353 people. The festival was canceled again due to the flooding in 2013 and because of the death of of King Father Norodom Sihanouk in October 2012.
The water festival is one of the biggest event in Cambodia. People come from provinces, all over the country gather in Phnom Penh to see the boat race which take place at Tonle Sap in front of the Royal Palace.
Look back to the history of the water festival which was in 12th century, to the time of the Angkorian king Jayavarman VII, it was celebrated to bring up the fishing season and also meant to keep the river divinities happy ensuring a full harvest of rice and fish to come.
Normally, there are three ceremonies process of the water festival. The first one is Loy Pratip, it celebrates in the evening, featuring with a beautiful boat that lighting up along the waterways. The second one called Sampeas Preah Khae which is the salutation to the moon. The good sign for the upcoming harvest is known as a full moon and Cambodians always pray hopefully to get a full harvest ahead. Last but not least, it called Auk Ambok which celebrate at night. Known as ambok or flattered rice, it’s a simply rice fried in the husk and we eat it combine with coconut and banana.
The water festival held for 3 days in Phnom Penh and there will be boat races with colorful decoration on river. Unlike western boat race, Cambodian boat crew are complemented with a beautiful woman at the prow dancing to the beat of the drum. School is closed and some people will go out of town for a vocation. Those who stay in town will gather at the river bank to celebrate the event and usually, they have an exhibition which sell products from the neighbor countries such as Thailand and Vietnam. It’s the perfect timing to go shopping with your friends and family.
Some roads will be block due to the traffic jam and to make the event go smoother, it allows people to walk among the streets, enjoy the festival’s entertainment. The best atmosphere is at night, foods and drinks overflow the street, concert entertain the crowds and the riversides are packed with supporter for the boat races. Then, the time for the beautiful firework, sparkled all over the sky, brightly lit with colorful lights, glide gracefully down to the river.