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Water Festival

Monday, November 2, 2009

Water, light floating and moon praying festival are always held annually within three days, 14th 15th day of the waxing moon and 1st day of the waning moon in Kattika (name of the 12th month of lunar calendar that between October and November of solar calendar).This festival consists of boats racing (men-women) from morning until evening and at night they float the decorated light of each institution.

Especially fireworks make every body in the festival happier. On the 15th of waxing moon of Kattika and the 2nd day of the festival, people pray the moon and Ak-ambok.

The source of Water Festival

The carving boat of Khmer group on a grand bronze drum. 3B.C National Museum
According to book called “the History of Cambodia” shows ­that in 3rd B.C, Khmer society had developed itself. They could make the boat as carving on the grand bronze drum in National Museum and discovery of wooden boats in Kampuchea Krom (lower Cambodia). Until Fu-nan period, King Fan che-man had established the ships in purposes of oversea war and business.

The carving boat of Khmer group on a grand bronze drum. 3B.C National Museum

This activity was recorded by Chinese historian in their history. Then in Chenla period, Cambodia was divided into two parts, the higher and the lower. So the uses of boats or ships are very importance for Lower Chenla in transportation, businesses and war. Further more, the sculptures at Bayon and Banteay Chmar temples mentioned Jayavarman7 leaded the navy troops by boats to overcome Cham soldiers. This war aimed to liberate Cambodia from enemy (1177-1181). We could see Jayavarman7 standing on the boat, daringly hold an arch and long stick among the navy forces.

Refer to the document of board contesting of Mores and Customs Commission Nº 19-004, written by Mr. Thach Pain, called Pang, a lay man in sub-Buddhist Institute at Klang province, Kampuchea Krom, mentioned that in Long Vek time (1528 AD), King Ang Chan 1 appointed Paññea Tat Siddhaphubal as a feudal lord to govern Kampuchea Krom, Basak district. This king had organized his navy troops as follows

- Group 1, called the front line fighter and trained to fight with the boats profile as the boats contesting we have had every day.

- Group 2, called the back force and trained to fight with oaring boats which have two row seats the same as the boats we have had every day.

- Group 3, called Basak navy, a big boat with roof at the front part, oaring materials, sail, no wall etc. and it was similar to Basak boat. So it is called Pok Chay boat. It was the cargo boat. The fighting ­strategies, used by the feudal lord of Kampuchea Krom, depended on the four regional governors to restrict law and other regulations.

They prepared the festival while on the full moon in Kattika. Those governors gathered all forces to conduct “the Combined Fighting Training” for a day and a night every year at the strong hold of feudal lord.

Historically, we can conclude that the boat contesting was celebrated from pre-Angkor period the same as the other countries, China and India in the past. It shows the Khmer strong navy force and derived from combined fighting training in the past. Further more, in Buddhism, we found the scripture titled “dhammapadatthakatha” volume 3, page 137 mentioned that Nagas had created boat for Buddha in “Attano buppa kamma vathu” story.

Sources of light floating festival

There are three scriptures mention about this festival
- Dathavongsa in Pali language tells that Buddha’s four canine teeth were placed at five sites: Second level of paradise, Dragon world, Ganthiara, Dantapura and Kalingaratth.

- In Phanaravara Pali scripture, chapter puddhanamakkaragatha said that the Buddha’s feet were placed at five sites: suvannamalikabarvata, suvannavarvata, sumanakutabarvata, yonakapuri and at nammada stream.

- The praised words of Buddha’s feet in Pali and Khmer also mention about Buddha’s feet as in Phanaravara Pali too. Whereas the books are the sources, Cambodian Buddha’s disciples always perform floating light festival at Assuj. For king always conducts this festival on14th 15th day of the waxing moon and 1st day of the waning moon in Kattika for canine teeth at dragon world, Buddha’s feet at nammada stream and where else as mention above. They believe that it is the good action for people and nation.

Source of moon praying- Aak Ambok festival

n baramattha dipani atdhakatha cariyapitaka scripture, pali language, said that in the early this phaddakabba, Preah Podhisat as born as Sasa pandit (a rabbit). On the day of full moon, Sasa pandit dedicated his meat as teanbaramattha barami to others who want and himself will be born as Buddha. Preah Indda knows this and turns to be an old Brahman to beg for Preah Podhisat’s meat. Preah Podhisat told an old Brahman to burn the light and he will jump into the fire. But fire could not burn Preah Podhisat and the old Brahman carried him to Chanda (moon) immediately. Brahman draw Preah Podhisat picture on the moon and we can see it until now. Believing in this fact, at the night of full moon in Kattika, all Cambodian people bring foods, cake such as pounded rice (called Ambok), banana, coconuts and other things to pray the moon.

In conclusion, Water, light floating and moon praying festival have two meanings. The first one is to keep our good traditional, custom and religion of our people and another one is to indicate about the development of all fields in the country. It shows the happiness, friendship, braveness etc. of our people to combat the enemies, nature in their living. We have to prevent these heritages from dangers. This festival also to show enthusiasm for water that is the special thing which can create life and prosperity to human being and the abundant of agricultural products that come from water and fertilized land I our country.



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