Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Rice, corn, beans this year's bumper crops: royal oxen

Rice, corn, beans this year's bumper crops: royal oxen

Royal oxen ceremonially till the land at the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Svay Rieng province on Thursday. Facebook
Royal oxen ceremonially till the land at the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Svay Rieng province on Thursday. Facebook

Rice, corn, beans this year's bumper crops: royal oxen

King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the Royal Ploughing Ceremony in Svay Rieng province on Thursday morning, with the event’s prognosticating oxen again forecasting a promising outlook for the agricultural production of beans, corn and rice.

The annual festival marks the beginning of the agricultural and rainy season, and centres around two royal oxen tasked with choosing from seven chalices containing rice, corn, beans, sesame, water, grass and rice wine. The oxen’s choices portend which crops will flourish in the coming growing season.

After six oxen, decked in regalia, were taken around the field for a symbolic tilling of the land, two of the oxen were unyoked and led to the six chalices to make their choice – though one was initially a little reluctant to partake of the proffered foodstuffs.

Ten minutes later, as is tradition, royal astrologer Kang Ken observed how much the oxen had eaten and made his declaration for the upcoming agricultural season.

“Ninety-five percent of rice was eaten, 95 percent of corn was eaten, and 80 percent of beans were eaten,” he announced to the crowds.

“This is only the prediction according to the traditional ploughing ceremony,” he said, adding that he would call on everything sacred to ensure there are good rains for the upcoming harvest.

Last year’s celebration was hit by a thunderstorm that destroyed the tents and the field used for the festivities. However, after a quick fix, Ken gave a similar prediction when the oxen ate most of the corn, rice and beans on offer.

The tradition dates back to the prevalence of Hindu customs in the early Khmer civilisation and traditionally involves ceremonial tilling performed by either the king or two representatives, called Sdech Miech and Preah Mehour. It is considered auspicious for the oxen to eat the rice, corn, beans and sesame – the amount of each eaten signifying the prospects of the upcoming crop.

The drinking of the water suggests that there will be good rains, but if the oxen drink too much, it could signify floods. Eating the grass would foretell disease, whereas gulps of the rice wine is a harbinger of conflict.

Svay Rieng farmer Khieu Sarun said on Thursday that she followed the results of the ceremony closely, and was pleased she would have a bountiful crop this year.

“I believe the prediction because it was correct in the past. I was happy when the oxen ate 95 percent of the rice; this mean there won’t be much pests like last year. I also hope that the rain is regular and normal this year,” she said.

MOST VIEWED

  • NY sisters inspired by Khmer heritage

    Growing up in Brooklyn, New York, Cambodian-American sisters Edo and Eyen Chorm have always felt a deep affinity for their Cambodian heritage and roots. When the pair launched their own EdoEyen namesake jewellery brand in June, 2020, they leaned heavily into designs inspired by ancient Khmer

  • Cambodia records first Omicron community case

    The Ministry of Health on January 9 reported 30 new Covid-19 cases, 29 of which were imported and all were confirmed to be the Omicron variant. The ministry also reported 11 recoveries and no new deaths. Earlier on January 9, the ministry also announced that it had detected the Kingdom's

  • The effects of the USD interest rate hike on Cambodian economy

    Experts weigh in on the effect of a potential interest rate expansion by the US Federal Reserve on a highly dollarised Cambodia Anticipation of the US Federal Reserve’s interest rate hike in March is putting developing economies on edge, a recent blog post by

  • PM eyes Myanmar peace troika

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has suggested that ASEAN member states establish a tripartite committee or diplomatic troika consisting of representatives from Cambodia, Brunei and Indonesia that would be tasked with mediating a ceasefire in Myanmar. The premier also requested that Nippon Foundation chairman Yohei Sasakawa

  • Kampot tourism quay ‘90% done’

    Construction on Kampot International Tourism Port – a 4ha quay in Teuk Chhou district about 6km west of Kampot town – has fallen off track, reaching 90 per cent completion, according to a senior Ministry of Tourism official last week. The project is now planned to be finished

  • Demining rat ‘hero’ Magawa dead at 8

    A landmine-hunting rat that was awarded a gold medal for heroism for clearing ordnance from the Cambodian countryside has died, his charity said on January 11. Magawa, a giant African pouched rat originally from Tanzania, helped clear mines from about 225,000sqm of land – the equivalent of 42