Water Festival (Mid November) - Holiday in Cambodia & Festivals

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Water Festival (Mid November)

Called "Bon Om Tuk" in Khmer, The Water Festival is one of the largest festivals in Cambodia. It is usually held in Mid-November during 3 days with many outdoor activities.

The 3-day Water Festival in Phnom Penh celebrated at the end of the rainy season, the start of the fishing season, and also the unique natural phenomenon - the flow of the Tonle Sap River changing direction. At the end of the rainy season, the water level of the Mekong drops again, the current reverts and flows back into the Mekong. It is a good omen promising a bountiful harvest.

The origins of the Water Festival dates back to the powerful navy of King Jayavarman II, the 9th century founder of the great Angkorian Empire, and the main purpose is to make the god of the river happy so he will provide many fish and the rice crop will be plentiful.

Many villagers throughout the country have spent almost a full year preparing their villages boat – elaborately and brightly decorated dugout canoes with large eyes on the prows to ward off evil spirits. Thousand of Khmers descend on Phnom Penh over the three days to watch the races and cheer on their villages boat, which can be up to 20 meters long and contain up to 60 oarsmen, frantically paddling and chanting as the do battle in highly competitive races.

Many other interesting activities such as fairs, festivals, shows, parades, fireworks, music and dancing are also occur in the festival. All of those activities make Phnom Penh takes on a carnival atmosphere during this time.

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