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Chat Preah Nengkal

Royal Ploughing Ceremony © Jeffdkennel
Royal Ploughing Ceremony © Jeffdkennel

Chat Preah Nengkal, the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, is an ancient Cambodian agricultural rite that takes place in front of the National Museum, near the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. The ceremony is held in early May each year where all banks, ministries, and embassies are closed during the event. Cambodians have a number of traditional rituals for forecasting the weather and determining whether harvests will be fruitful. Chat Preah Nengkal is the ancient royal rite marking the start of the rice-growing season. In the ritual, sacred oxen plough a patch of ceremonial ground so that Brahmins can sow some rice seed. Once the seed is sown, the sacred animals are offered a selection of food, including rice, beans, grass, and rice whisky, and the royal soothsayers make predictions for the harvest based on the appetites and food selection of the oxen. Although the Royal Ploughing Ceremony may not be as festive or exciting as some other Cambodian festivals, it is interesting to see this ancient ritual practiced. If you are in Phnom Penh at the time of the ceremony, it is well worth taking part in the event and celebrations. Before the ritual is performed, there is an impressive ceremonial procession, featuring a ceremonial guard and traditional dancers.

Venue: In front of the National Museum, near the Royal Palace.

Date: 1 - 10 May 2019