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Cambodia’s Water Festival

The Water Festival is celebrated every year during n the month November, which marks the reversal of the Tonle Sap River. For three days, the people of Cambodia come together to celebrate the ending of the rainy season with traditional ceremonies and long-boat races.  Here our Cambodian country director Narla talks about this long-standing tradition…

The Water Festival, happening from Nov 5-7 this year, takes place annually during the full moon of the Buddhist month of Kadeuk (usually in November). There is lots going on from big parties in the cities to small-scale celebrations in the countryside. The main activity are the long-boat races that happen in all the major cities, with the largest gathering being in Phnom Penh.

Back in countryside, people will go to pagoda at night when the moon is full. When I was a kid, it’s a very exciting time for me because Christmas or birthday parties aren’t traditional but the Water Festival came around every year. We would go along with parents or friends and bring, Orm Bok, the coconut and banana dish to give the monks. The ceremony would be going on and we would start to pray at 12am with monks chanting. People would each have different wishes depending on what they wanted but the main wish was for rain water to be abundant for farming the next year. We would have better life if there are enough rain.

I remember fondly these memories of when I was a kids, happy and enjoying life and staying connect with this traditional ceremony.

The Schedule

As with most activities in the Kingdom of Wonder, start time are approximate.


November 5, 2014

1:30 p.m.  — Opening remarks and the start of the races 13:30

6:45 p.m. —  Fireworks

7:00 p.m. — Traditional Performance and modern concert at Royal Gardens in front of Raffles

November 6, 2014

2:00 p.m.  — Final racing of all boat

5:00 p.m. — Closing Ceremony

7:30 p.m. — The arrival of governor and guests

8:00 p.m. — Make the wish with the moon and Ork Orm Bok ceremony at Royal Garden next to Raffles followed by fireworks

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