Nowadays, Cambodian people are so proud of their wide range of wonderful festivals and rituals which are extremely varied and diverse. Although some traditions and festivals have a lot of changes, now numerous festivals, unique customs and traditions still exist and attract thousands of visitors annually. Especially, the most popular Cambodia holidays that people here always love and own a great pride are Water Festival Bom Chaul Chnam, Victory over Genocide day, Independence Day of Cambodia and Boat racing festival.
Water Festival Bom Chaul Chnam (13-15/04)
Cambodia’s biggest festival is the Bom Chnam Chaul which is held to celebrate the successful rice harvest on April 13 to April 15. In these days, people gather happily and splash water into each other with the hope of achieving a good harvest next year. This festival is also popular in Laos, Thailand, and Myanmar which are Asian countries with the similar agricultural civilization.
Normally, after the religious ceremony in the temple, people come into the streets, use buckets, sinks, water faucets to splash water into people, houses, animals and production tools. Water Festival takes place in a cheerful, comfortable and friendly atmosphere, which expresses the intimacy among Cambodian people. Therefore, not only the locals but also foreign tourists view it as a favorite activity in Cambodia. In every water festival called Chaul Chnam Bom, the number of visitors to Cambodia increases remarkably. Moreover, in the lighthearted atmosphere, everyone, regardless of age, gender, family members or the unacquainted is all excited and willing to wish each other good things and best lucks.
Victory over Genocide day (7/01)
This national holiday is always celebrated annually on 7 January. Widely known as Cambodian Victory Day, it marks the end of the Khmer Rouge regime in 1979. From 1975-1979, the regime killed nearly 3 million Cambodian civilians, destroyed all social facilities and pushed the Cambodian nation to the verge of perdition. Today, on this day, the parade is usually held by the Cambodian government with the intention of commemorating the victims who died in the war.
This day is vital for all Cambodians due to so many sacrifices for the country’s independence and freedom. Additionally, they also call this day a second birthday because Vietnamese soldiers gave them the hope for a better future. The celebration usually includes the remembrance services for the victims, speeches by government officials and cultural displays. Cambodian Victory Day is a public holiday and a day off in the country.
Independence Day of Cambodia (09/11)
This is the anniversary of Cambodian independence after the French colonial domination. Usually, on November 9, in the early morning, this event is celebrated at the independence monument with the participation of the King and Ministers at all levels, civil servants and many students from other schools in Phnom Penh city. Many bunches of flowers are put around the independence monument.
At the end of the event, the King burns the victory flame to celebrate the victory and to praise their incredible dedication of all those beautiful and brave people who devoted their lives to the country freedom. Moreover, in the evening, there will have many amazing fireworks at the royal palace that will light up the whole sky and make this night become a beautiful night in the history of Cambodia
Boat racing festival (15/11-Lunar calendar)
Boat Race Festival is held right in front of the Cambodian Royal Palace on November 15 in the lunar calendar, in the rainy season. Literally, boat racing festival was recorded a long time ago on the walls of the capital of Angkor built from the 12th century. On the wall, there were the pictures of boat racing festival scene carved very clearly and carefully. Noticeably, it is widely known that boat racing festival represents the national identity, intelligence, agility, perseverance, happiness, peace-loving, community unity, ethnic pride, patriotism and the awareness of protecting the country territory. Not only is the festival a competition, it is also the moment to thank the Buddha for giving an abundant harvest and to pray for prosperity.
Especially, this is also a special occasion to praise the national power which could not be divided by naval forces of the ancient Khmer Empire. In addition, one purpose of this competition is to introduce vividly various means of water transport of the Khmer people. In fact, boat racing festival is considered one of the most crowded festivals when Cambodian people gather in Phnom Penh to watch the race. Obviously, the festival has attracted a lot of tourists to visit and experience a wonderful time in Cambodia in November every year