May was a very special month for one of our CBT members. Soeung Savy celebrated her wedding with her new husband, Ahn. The wedding celebration took place May 14-15.
Everyone from the Banteay Chhmar CBT would like to wish Savy and Ahn a long, happy marriage and life together.
The wedding ceremony included the Hai Goan Gomloh (Groom’s Processional). At the beginning of the day, the bride customarily waits at her parent’s house while the groom gathers a procession of his family and friends. The procession symbolizes the journey of the prince Preah Thong to meet his bride the princess Neang Neak. The groom’s procession approaches the bride’s home bearing wrapped platters of gifts, usually fruits and Khmer desserts, and is led by a band of musicians and singers.
The cermony also included the Gaat Sah (Hair Cutting ceremony). To prepare the bride and groom for their life as a married couple, their hair is symbolically cut, representing a fresh start to their new relationship together as husband and wife. The master of ceremony performs the first symbolic hair cut and wishes the couple happiness, prosperity, and longevity. The bride and groom’s parents, relatives, and friends then take turn to symbolically cut the bride and groom’s hair and give them blessings and well-wishes. In the old days, the bride and groom’s hair were really cut during this ceremony, but in modern times it is only done symbolically.
May was also an important month for our Banteay Chhmar CBT homestay owners. On May 12th, John Sanday, Field Director from Global Heritage Fund, presented each homestay owner with a $300 no-interest loan to upgrade their homestays. The money will be used to upgrade the bathroom facilities with western-style toilets, showerheads and a water storage tank. The homestay owners will do the labor themselves and pay for miscellenous building materials. Each homestay owner has agreed to repay the loan based on their ability – about 2 years. We hope to have some photos of the improvements next month!
Finally, on May 26th, Sok Pagna Keo, from Heritage Watch conducted a workshop on Cultural Heritage Protection at Banteay Torp. More than 100 villagers attended the workshop. Speakers from local and national government departments spoke about the importance of protecting ancient sites, temples and artifacts.