No, not Songkran – that other water festival, in Cambodia, and its thrills

South China Morning Post –

Cheers erupt from the thronging crowds that pack Phnom Penh’s riverside as the colourful slim wooden boats race down the Tonle Sap River.

A flash of reds, yellows, greens and blues glide along the water as the ornately-decorated longboats, powered by up to 80 men and women, pass by.

Welcome to Cambodia’s Water Festival, or Bon Om Touk. The annual event, which takes place this year from November 21 to 23, is one of the country’s most treasured celebrations and draws more than one million Cambodians from the provinces to the capital for three days of festivities.

Also referred to as the Sun and Moon Festival, Bon Om Touk coincides with the full moon of the Buddhist month of Katdeuk. Heralding the end of the monsoon season and ringing in a new season of healthy crops and fish, the Water Festival is a time for serious celebration.

The Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers have long been the lifeblood of Cambodians. As well as providing fish to eat and water to feed crops and cattle, these waterways are where many a bloody battle was fought by the almighty naval forces of Angkorian kings – mainly against the indigenous Chams, throughout the 12th century.

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