Home > Local News > Boat races kick off Cambodian Water Festival

Boat races kick off Cambodian Water Festival

 PHNOM PENH, Nov 20,
2010 (AFP) – Crowds thronged a Phnom Penh lake on Saturday as Cambodia
began its annual Water Festival celebrations with colourful dragon boat
races.
More than two million
visitors from across the country are expected to flock to the capital
for three days of festivities, with boat races on the Tonle Sap lake,
fireworks and parades.
This year 420 brightly
coloured boats, with nearly 28,000 rowers, are lined up to take part,
according to an official from the Committee for National and
International Festivals.

“When I see many people
like this, I am so happy,” said Bun Chhiv Meang, 59, who said visiting
the festival made a welcome change from his job as a farmer.

But the Water Festival
could be a muted affair for monks, who have been warned by Phnom Penh’s
chief monk not to mingle with the crowds and told they face a reprimand
if caught looking at girls in short skirts.

Buddhist monks are highly revered in Cambodia and are not supposed to touch, or even look at, women.

The annual festival, one of
Cambodia’s largest and most exuberant, marks the reversal of the flow
between the Tonle Sap and the Mekong river.

It is also seen as a way of giving thanks to the river for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish.
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