Monday, 3 December 2012

# 17 “ A Bird doesn't sing because it has an answer, it sings because it has a song. ” - Maya Angelou

Festivals and Weddings...

Another week of Public Holidays !!
This time it was 'Bon Om Tuk' - the Water Festival. This is a 3 day celebration marking the biannual reversal of the Tonlé Sap River.
Geology 101... 
This is an amazing, and unique, event caused by the annual monsoonal flooding of the Mekong floodplain. This flooding causes the waters of the Tonlé Sap River to drain north into the shallow Tonlé Sap Lake. For most of the year the Lake is fairly small, around one metre deep and with an area just under 3000km².
During the monsoon season however, water is pushed back up the Tonlé Sap River, from the Mekong, into the Lake increasing it's area to 16,000km² and it's depth up to 9 metres, flooding surrounding fields and forests.

Sunset on Tonlé Sap Lake
So, around June every year, the river waters pour into the Tonlé Sap Lake and in November it begins to drain back out.
Apparently, when the river returns to it's expected southerly flow, the lake can drain so quickly that it's not unusual for fishermen to be plucking their catch from the trees !
One species of fish, the Elephant Fish, has developed the ability to survive for several hours out of water, in case the receding waters leave it stuck high'n'dry. Darwinism at work in Cambodia again...
Remember this one Jassie?
Elephant Fish
 It's also the official end of the rainy season.
Unfortunately, the usual festivities were canceled this year as a mark of respect for the passing of the Cambodian 'King Father' Norodom Sihanouk, 6 weeks ago, so we didn't get to watch the dragon boat races...guess I'll have to book that one in for next year.
Bon Om Tuk - Dragon Boats

The end of the wet season also heralds the beginning of the 'wedding season'.
And the Khmae sure know how to celebrate a wedding!

So, even though I didn't get to experience Bon Om Tuk, I did manage to get myself invited to my first traditional Khmer wedding.

Beginning at 4am, the music is amplified and piped through monster speakers for the entire neighbourhood to enjoy... and the celebrations go for 2 to 3 days.

 Day 1: 
  • Procession by the Groom & his entourage to the home of the Bride, bearing bowls of fruits and deserts, to 'negotiate' the Wedding.
  • Friends and relatives also give bowls of fruit and deserts (and, apparently cigarettes & Coke..)

Wedding Gifts
Followed by the blessings of the monks and the exchange of Wedding Rings.

Day 2:
Tributes for the Ancestors
  • Tea Ceremony and tributes to the ancestors.
  • Cutting of hair - This is done to symbolise the Bride & Grooms new life as a married couple. Traditionally the Master of Ceremonies would make the first cut, followed by the parents, relatives & friends. Today this is only a 'symbolic' ritual. After seeing the incredibly coiffured hair I'm not surprised it's become symbolic....
Day 3:
  • The Pairing Ceremony. This is where family members & friends tie the bride and grooms left & right wrists with 'Blessing Strings' amidst praises, well-wishes of happiness, good health, success, prosperity and long-lasting love accompanied by the loud sound of gongs and cheers. 
Congratulations Chit and Meardey..

 A relaxing week ending with the weekend in a classy $15/night hotel after I'd heard enough of the wonderful wedding ceremony...

The Vy Chhe2
Even though I really didn't have any breath-taking news to share, I am still so happy here, so excited by the inspirational potential that I see developing in the hearts & minds of the beautiful people around me, I just had to 'sing'...

1 comment:

  1. It's a shame you missed out on the dragon boats this year. Apparently they spend months digging the boats out by hand leading up to the races and it is quite prestigious to win the race.
    Very interesting to know the details of the wedding ceremonies. I believe the 3 day events are becoming less common now, though it seems the tradition is alive and well in your neck of the woods!
    Kirk and I are getting closer to finalising our plans for our visit. Getting excited now.