Boat Racing – Cambodian Water & Moon Festival
Bonn Om Touk or the Cambodian Water & Moon Festival, is a Cambodian festival which marks the reversal of the flow of the Tonle Sap River. Visitors from every town and province travel to Phnom Penh to watch boat races along the Sisowath Quay and visited illuminated floating royal boats with firework and attend free concerts in the evenings over night. For three days, workers from every province join with the city’s residents to celebrate by night and day. The festival lasts three days, and commemorates the end of the country’s rainy season, as well as the change in flow of the Tonle Sap River. It includes boat races and concerts, and attracts several million people each year.
The boat racing is still the biggest draw to the Water Festival. The colorful boat races are remarkably similar to the 800-year-old engravings on the Angkor temples. Made in the same style, the brightly-colored boats sit low on the water and are manned by anywhere from thirty to eighty people, with a captain who dances to the rhythm of the drums on the bow as encouragement to the rowers as they move swiftly through the water.
Historically, the boat races were a chance for the Angkorian people to train and prepare for battle, with the King selecting the champions to help defend the Kingdom. Today the stakes are just as high, with the honor of every man’s village to fight for. Every villager takes pride in preparing for the Water Festival, painstakingly hand carving out the boat and training for months before pulling together all their savings and making the long trek to the capital to demonstrate their strength and stamina in front of the King.
Below some of allPhoto Bangko pictures from this year (2019) boat racing.