The outcome of the Royal Ploughing Ceremony, held this year under the auspices of King Norodom Sihamoni, was decided in Kampong Thom province on May 8, with the royal oxen opting to eat 95 per cent of the rice, corn and mung beans on offer, indicating a promising year for the Kingdom’s major crops.
The traditional ceremony marks the beginning of the planting season and proclaims that the “season of happiness” has arrived.
During the ceremony, a Brahmin court priest prays over the oxen and then sprinkles them with holy water.
An official who has been chosen to play “King Meak” – the role went to Kampong Thom governor Nguon Ratanak this year – then leads the cattle to seven tables, each containing a tray. The first contains rice, the second mung beans, and so on, with corn, sesame seeds, fresh grass, water and wine also on offer.
The oxen are left to select the table(s) they eat from, with no guidance from their handler.
Based on their selections, the court priest will predict the outcome of the coming year.
If the oxen eat any seed, it is a good sign. If they drink water, it indicates that there will be plenty of rain.
If they eat fresh grass, it is believed that there will be livestock diseases in the year ahead. Drinking wine suggests that there will be an increase in crime and social insecurity.
This year, the Brahmin was pleased to bring the results to the King.
“I am pleased to report that the royal oxen ate 95 per cent of the rice, corn and beans we offered them,” he said.
Prime Minister Hun Sen issued a congratulatory message on the occasion, noting that the Kingdom has celebrated the ceremony every year in the month of Vaisakha.
Vaisakha corresponds to the April-May cycle between new moons.
“The ploughing ceremony is one of the most important after the anniversary of the royal coronation, one of the other ceremonies of the year,” he wrote on social media.
He explained that the ceremony was held in order to predict the fortunes of the country, according to the choices made by the royal oxen. The occasion also serves to remind people that the traditional planting season has arrived.
This year’s ceremony took place in the new Kampong Thom Stadium in Trapaing Russey commune’s Rong village of Kampong Svay district.