Khmer Culture And Traditional

  *Cambodian New Year

The Cambodian New Year take place from 13th -15th April, during the dry season when farmers finished work in the rice fields. Astrologers determine the exact time and date by calculating the exact moment the new animal protector (tiger, dragon, or snake) arrives. Cambodian spend the entire month of April in preparation for the celebration, cleaning and decorating their house with candles, lights, star shaped lanterns and flowers. During the first three days, everybody travels to the pagodas to offer some food , fruit to the monks. 
 
*Pchum Ben
Pchum Ben is a religious ceremony in September when every body remembers the spirit of dead relatives. For 15days, Khmer poeple in the villages take turns bringing some food to the temples or pagodas. On the 15th or the last day, everyone dresses in their finest clothing to travel together to the pagoda. Family bring flowers, and children offer food and presents to the monks. Everyone says prayers to help their ancestors pass on to a better life. According to Khmer belief, those who do not follow the practices of Pchum Ben are cursed by their angry ancestors.
 
*Water Festival
This is very popular festival , Water Festival or the Festival of the Reversing Current. It takes place in late October or early November and marks the reversal of the Tonle Sap River so that it once again flows south from the Tonle Sap Lake into the Mekong River. The highlight of the three-day festival is the boat racing that are held in Phnom Penh . Individual villages build their own boats by hollowing out a log to make a dugout canoe that is rowed by as many as forty people! The prow and the stern of the canoe turn upward and the prow is painted with an eye, just like the war vessels on the wall of the temples at Angkor Thom. On the first two days of the festival, pairs of boats race each other. At sunset on the third day, there is a big race and everyone believes that the river is happy, the fish will be plentiful and the rice crop will flourish.

*Wedding
Wedding is the most important social events in the lives of young people. Men usually get married between the ages of 18-25years old and women between 16-22years old. Other people might wonder why the family is unable to find people willing to marry their children!! There are traditional ways in which a family should decide if a partner is suitable or not. Each family appoints a representative to investigate the other family who makes sure that the other family is honest and, hopefully, wealthy. Once the two families agree to the wedding, they exchange gifts of plants and food and then they consult an astrologer who chooses a lucky date for the ceremony. The wedding ceremony takes place at the bride's house. The bride and groom exchange gifts and rings. Their wrists are tied together with red thread that has been soaked in holy water. A Buddhist priest delivers a sermon, and married guests pass around a candle to bless the new couple. After the ceremony, there is a grand feast. People eat fruit, meat, and small round cakes filled with rice or coconut. Musicians play traditional instruments like the ones seen in this unit's figurine collection. 
 

Khmer Language, Literature and Poeple

Language
Cambodia's national language is Khmer. It is the only language taught in the country's schools and is used in government documents. The Khmer writing system comes from an Indian alphabet that was brought into Cambodia over a thousand years ago. In Khmer, everyone refers to each other as older brother and older sister, or Aunt and Uncle. Many ancient words are borrowed from Pali or Sanskrit and many more recent words are from French, words such as "chocolate" and "gateaux." Khmer grammar is very simple. For example, there are no tenses. If you want to change "I go to the market" into the past tense, you just add the word already. But Khmer is precise in ways that English isn't. Like many languages, it has many words for articles which are useful for Cambodian people, for example there are over one hundred words for rice!! Also, there are different words for "you," depending on whether you are speaking to a child, a parent, a Buddhist monk, or a member of the royal family. Under the Khmer Rouge regime, they tried to forbid some of these pronouns so that everyone was placed on the same level. Among educated Cambodians over forty years of age, French is still a second language. In the mid 1980s, however, French was overtaken informally by English as the European language that urban Cambodians wanted to learn. In rural areas, not many people speak a foreign language.
 
*Literature
The greatest piece of literature in Khmer is called The Reamker. It is the Cambodian adaptation of the Indian epic of the Ramayana. It dates from the fifteenth or sixteenth century. The story of Hanuman and Sovann Macha (which is described separately) is derived from this story and made into a dance. Many Cambodian dances, and shadow plays are also taken from the Cambodian version of The Ramayana. The Ramayana is found in many cultures throughout Southeast Asia. Cambodians also like to tell their children "chbap"s or moral proverbs which school children memorize, as well as stories from the Reamker of folk tales. The chbap teaches the values of Cambodian society, such as being obedient to your elders and protecting those who are less fortunate than yourself

*People
  Khmers have mixed with other groups residing in Cambodia, including the Javanese(8th century), Thai ( 10th to 15th century) and Vietnamese (from the early 17th century) and Chinese (since the 18th century). Cambodia's diverse crunchiest (ethno linguistic minorities, or hill tribes), who live in the country's mountainous regions. Collectively, they are known as Khmer Loeu, literally the "Upper Khmer". The majority of the hill tribes are in the northeast of Cambodia, in the provinces of Ratanakiri, Mondulkiri, Stung Treng and Kratie.

Cambodia Traditional , Dress
The intricately patterned ikat silks (silks that whose threads are tie-dyed before being woven) created by the Khmer and Cham ethnic groups may come to mind when thinking of Cambodian textiles, but the peoples of Cambodia have produced many other cotton and silk textiles. Cambodians traditionally considered both domestic and imported textiles to be markers of identity, prestige, and wealth, and quantity and quality of textiles possessed by an individual or family contributed to their status within society.
Traditional dress in Cambodia is similar to traditional dress in neighboring Laos and Thailand.Sampot is the lower garment worn by either sex. The sampot for urban lower class and peasant women is a tube-skirt (sarong) approximately one and a half meters in length with both ends sewn together and is worn wrapped around the waist and secured with a cloth belt. Women of the middle and upper classes preferred to wear the sampot chang kben on a daily basis until the beginning of the twentieth century. This rectangular piece of cloth is approximately three meters long and one meter wide and is worn by first wrapping the cloth around the waist and stretching the ends away from the body. The outstretched ends are then twisted together and pulled between the legs and toward the back. The ends are tucked into the waist at the back, and the sampot chang kben is lastly fastened with a cloth or metal belt. Women of all social strata wear the sampot chang kben on special occasions such as religious ceremonies and weddings. Men also wear the sampot chang kben, but the traditional textile patterns worn by males differ from those worn by females. Traditionally, neither women nor men wore an upper garment. However, when the French colonial presence grew in Cambodia in the late nineteenth century, both men and women began to wear upper garments.
Even after the French presence in Cambodia from the 1860s onwards, Cambodians continued to wear traditional clothing. The Cambodian royalty and government officials combined the shot silk (in the appropriate color for the day of the week) with a formal jacket. In the beginning of the twentieth century, Cambodians adopted forms of western style clothing such as a blouse or shirt. Men more readily adopted trousers as the lower garment for daily use, and both sexes continue to wear the sampot chang kben for formal occasions. Lower class and particularly rural women still wear a tube-skirt, but the material may be printed batik-patterned cloth bought at the market rather than hand-woven silk or cotton

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