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Learn about the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Thailand and Cambodia

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The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an ancient royal tradition held in Cambodia and Thailand that marks the beginning of the rice growing season. The ceremony takes place in May, which also corresponds with the start of the rainy season. It is on May 13th in 2010 and will occur on May 10th in 2011, in accordance with Hora astrology.

The ceremony has Brahmin roots. Its purpose was to give farmers an auspicious beginning and provide reassurance to the farmers before the rice-plating season (since rice is each country’s main staple).

During the ceremony, two sacred oxen pull a wooden plough along a furrow, which has been laid upon and blessed by a head Brahmin priest. Rice seeds are sown by other Brahmin priests to which the oxen pull the plough over. As the furrow is being plowed, a man in front sprinkled blessed water on the ground. After the seeds have been scattered, the head Brahmin priest will again plough over the seeds three more times.

After the ceremonial ploughing, the oxen would then be released from the ploughs and are given a choice of rice, corn, green beans, sesame, grass, water or rice whisky to feed on. All of these foods are placed on separate trays on the ground.

According to Brahmin astrologers, if the oxen ate rice or corn there would be plentiful grains and fish during the harvest season, while beans or sesame would mean an abundance of fish and meat, water or grass would mean lots of rain, food, meat and crops while rice whiskey meant that there would be efficient transportation, good foreign trade relations and good economy in the future.

In Cambodia, the oxen ate most of the corn and beans, indicating that Cambodian farmers will have good crops in 2010. In Thailand, the oxen ate most of the grass, which means there would be plenty of rain, food, meat and crops.

In both countries, the monarch or a representative typically oversees the ceremony. Other times, the King or other members of the royal family will personally take part and guide the plough the oxen are dragging.

Southeast Asia is a wonderful and interesting region. The people are friendly, the culture is fascinating and there are a range of sites and destinations for the visitor to go to. Exotissimo’s Journey Across Cambodia – Bangkok to the Mekong Delta tour takes you to a region filled with beautiful temples, interesting cultures and marvelous natural sites. On your journey, you will experience a region full of contrasts and explore its ancient wonders along with its modern marvels in a memorable two week journey. See our multi-country tours page for even more fascinating tours into Southeast Asia or contact us if you have any questions or would like to tweak any of our tours.

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