November is, of course, a very special month in Cambodia. It is the time of Bon Om Touk – the Water Festival. The celebration takes place during the full moon period of the Buddhist month known as Kadeuk. Traditionally, the festival celebrates and honors the Khmer military – especially the naval forces. The festival has a long history, dating back hundreds of years to the glory of the Angkorian era.
This year’s festival in Banteay Chhmar was somewhat smaller than previous years. In part, this was due to the country’s continuing mourning period for the recently deceased King Sihanouk. Despite the subdued mood, the villagers still enjoyed plenty of music, food, games and one full day of boat racing.