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Rom Haey fall festival coming to Kampong Chhnang this month

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Participants in the Rom Haey festival thresh paddy rice in Kampong Chhnang on December 2. PHOTO SUPPLIED

Rom Haey fall festival coming to Kampong Chhnang this month

An event to celebrate the autumn season (Rom Haey) is coming to Kampong Chhnang province this month. The event will feature traditional music and dance, kite flying, contemporary concerts, traditional rice pounding displays and a spectacular fireworks show.

The event will run across December 17 and 18 in Por commune’s Damnak Koh village of Kampong Chhnang province’s Kampong Leng district. The Ing Foundation is cooperating with the provincial department of Culture and Fine Arts – along with specialists from Plerng Kob, a cultural events management company – to organise the celebration.

The Rom Haey festival celebrates the end of the traditional rice season. Traditionally, at this time of year Cambodians across the country are bringing in their rice harvests, pounding ambok (a traditional rice flake that is closely associated with many festivals), flying kites and celebrating the changing of the season.

The festival is being organised thanks to the support of the Ing Foundation. The organisation was launched by successful businessman Ing Bun Hoaw, who along with his wife Heng Sokha, heads the foundation.

Ing Seav Koaw, president of the festival committee, said the foundation has done a lot of work to promote Khmer traditional culture. It focuses on social programmes, including providing training for students in the district. The foundation is well-known for its support of Buddhism, as well as for its participation in environmental protection and local infrastructure development.

“Through this event, Ing Bun Hoaw, president of the foundation, is paying close attention to promoting and preserving the traditions, culture and art of our ancestors. This is the second year that the foundation has sponsored the festival,” he said.

He added that the foundation prepared other annual programmes, including the Phnom Touk Meas during Khmer New Year event, which ran in the district for three days in April. Around 15,000 people enjoyed the festivities.

“The Ing foundation has committed to supporting the Rom Haey Festival every year. In the future, we are planning even more events, possibly even a marathon,” he concluded.

Sok Thuork, director of the provincial culture department, said that two competitions will play a big part in the traditional celebrations – rice pounding and traditional Khmer kite flying.

“On December 2, we held a rice threshing competition. 64 people took part. It was an excellent rehearsal for the ambok pounding contest which will run on December 17-18,” he added.

“There are eleven teams of four signed up for the kite flying competition. We have prepared 100 extra kites so visitors to the festival will get a chance to fly a traditional kite,” he continued.

Cash prizes are on offer for the winners, with awards of four, three and two million riel for the top three. Consolation prizes will also be awarded.

Rithy Lomorpich, founder of the Plerng Kob group, explained that a core group consisting of 30 members was making this year’s preparations. Plerng Kob has years of experience in preparing such cultural and community programmes, including a Bon Phum or Village Ceremony, which has been held successfully nine times.

“This is why the Ing Foundation trusts us to prepare an event of this scale,” she said.

The group established a training programme for 150 local young people – who will help organise the competitions at the festival – five weeks before the event.

“This will be the first time the youths of the district have helped with this kind of work. The ambok and kite contests will be valuable experiences for them. Next year’s goal is to attract even more people to the Rom Haey Festival and turn Kampong Leng district into cultural attraction,” she said.

Culture department director Thourk said that on behalf of the people in the district, he was thankful for the support of the Ing Foundation.

“The people here are very happy that this event is happening, and would love to host it annually. It helps to preserve our local traditions and will attract visitors, both worthy goals,” he added.

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