MORE than 15,000 people came out for an annual ceremony in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district during which attendees beseeched a spirit for rain, a local official said.
The two-day ceremony in Ponhea Pun commune concluded Tuesday.
Commune chief Kou Eoun said villagers prayed for rain as well as for “peace for beasts and domestic animals”.
He said comedians and musicians accompanied a procession of 200 villagers who made offerings to a holy spirit called Neak Ta Pring Kh’aek on Tuesday morning, and that thousands of people travelled from surrounding provinces to enjoy the festival’s evening entertainment, which included costumes, horse-racing and a theatre show.
Chhorn Eam, secretary of state at the Ministry of Cults and Religions, said the event – which is held in a different area each year, depending on which is most in need of rainfall – had no connection with any religion, and that it was a tradition particular to certain communes.
“Buddhism does not value animistic prayers, and we cannot pray for rain either; rain, lightning and thunder are natural phenomena, they cannot listen to or understand our prayers,” he said.
Oum Ryna, deputy director of the Department of Meteorology at the Ministry of Water Resources and Meteorology, said the ministry’s forecast that the rainy season would start in mid-May had not been accurate, as some areas have yet to see any precipitation.
This year’s rainfall “will not be more than that of last year”, but it will be more evenly distributed, he added.