Harvest celebration preparations are underway in one Takeo province village. Rice noodles are being made from freshly gathered rice in an ancient tradition said to date back to pre-Angkor times.
Known as nom banh chok, the noodles are made by village elder Thorng Moul, who learned the techniques from her parents and grandparents.
For two days before the Dar Lean ceremony in Tropang Chhouk village last week, Thorng Moul began preparations to make the rice noodles – about 170 kilograms of them.
She soaks the rice for two days before pounding it with an ancient press to make the dough. This is then pressed through a sieve over boiling water to separate the dough into the characteristic noodle strands.
“Every Dar Lean festival, we usually make noodles in our village. Just as our parents did, we keep making them specially for the ceremony,” she said.
The noodles are then doled out for the morning ceremony and served alongside samlor broher, a kind of soup, and spicy chicken curry.
Village Buddhist priest Sor Nhai, 81, said families sent at least one member every year to take part in the Dar Lean ceremony, during which they thanked the spirits for a bountiful harvest.
“We habitually follow our ancestors, who hosted the ceremony to thank the spirits that provide us with good rain, good sunshine and good weather to grow any crops.”
He said the festival, which took about a day and a half, was also known as Bon Phum in some parts of the country. Food and incense is also offered to the spirits.