What is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony?

In Khmer, The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is called Bon Chroat Preah Nongkoal. It is a popular holiday in Cambodia.

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The Royal Ploughing Ceremony has been celebrated for hundreds of years in several Asian countries to mark the start of the rice growing season.

The ceremony usually takes place during the month of May and also marks the beginning of Cambodia’s rainy season.


What Happens During the Royal Ploughing Ceremony?

Traditionally, the King (or someone assigned in his place) begins ploughing a field with two royal oxen. At the same time, others sow the field with rice seeds. This part of the ceremony symbolizes the start of the rainy season and also wishes a successful harvest for the King’s people.

After the field has been ploughed and sowed three times, royal servants place several trays of rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water, and wine before the royal oxen. Predictions of future events will be made depending on what the oxen decide to eat.

For example, if the oxen eat more agricultural items, it’s believed that crops will do well during the year. Or if the oxen eat grass and wine, cattle could be plagued with epidemics.


In this video you can see the 2016 Royal Ploughing Ceremony taking place in Siem Reap, Cambodia. During the ceremony, Siem Reap’s governor played the role of King Meak while his spouse played the role of Queen Mehour.


When is the Royal Ploughing Ceremony Taking Place?

The ceremony will take place on May 3rd next to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh. Watching the ceremony is the best way for foreigners to experience this holiday.

If you’re traveling through Cambodia, make plans to be in Phnom Penh during this time. You will be able to observe the full event, plowing, sowing, and the oxen predictions. The Royal Ploughing Ceremony should also be broadcasted on national TV, in case you can’t make it in person.

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