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101 Khmer Wedding CelebrationPOSTED: 2009-10-21 08:53:05   REPLIED: 0

One of the most joyous and celebrated occasions in Khmer traditions is a marriage in a Khmer family. Wedding celebrations may last for approximately 3 days and can even stretch on for a week, and is usually filled with much merriment, festivity and colour. A lot of preparation goes into the numerous events that are held during the wedding period and is bound to keep the whole family busy and celebrating on a continuous basis.

The Khmer tradition of the wedding evolves around the legendary story of Cambodias origins. It is said that the first Khmer prince, Preah Thong, married the Naga princess, Neang Neak, who he met on his many travels as he was exiled from his homeland. As a marriage gift, the princesss father was said to have swallowed a part of the ocean bringing forth the land of Cambodia.

As the wedding celebrations begin, family, friends and other community members continue to stream in to join in this joyous occasion. Some typical features of the wedding would include a band of musicians playing through out the day, and the bride changing her wedding garments time and again. Dressed like royalty, the couple is truly a magnificent sight to see.

The wedding ceremony is made up of many events put together. Some of the highlights from these include the Grooms Processional where the groom is invited to the brides home bearing many fruits and sweets. The Cleansing Ceremony will captivate you as according to Khmer tradition the couple needs to undergo a process of elaborate cleansing that involves dancing around the couple, cutting their hair, shaving the groom and perfuming them. The knot tying ceremony is also a unique one where family and friends come forward to tie ribbons on the couples wrists as a sign of good wishes and to be photographed with them.


102 cambodia festivalsPOSTED: 2009-10-15 12:35:59   REPLIED: 0

Cambodia has a wealth of traditional and international festivals. Most of these are a time of great rejoicing for the predominantly rural populace, many of whom flock to the capital to join in the celebrations and witness the organized fireworks displays which accompany the festivals. It is at these times the nation unites with a shared common understanding of values and traditions and they are looked forward to with great expectation. Even in times of hardship people try even harder to make these times special. All the traditional festivals are influenced by the concepts of Buddhism, Hinduism and royal cultures. The following are the most important of the celebrations organized throughout the year.

National Day November 9
One of the more recent additions to the festival calendar, this day marks the end of the Khmer Rouge regime. However for many Khmers it also marks the start of the Vietnamese regime seen as another period of foreign occupancy.
Chinese New Year (January or February)

Due to the large number of people of Chinese descent who run much of Cambodias business enterprises and Vietnamese immigrant communities, the Chinese New Year is widely celebrated, especially in Phnom Penh. No Chinese festival would be complete without fireworks and this time of year is no exception with many wealthy families organizing their own private displays which light up the skies for all to see.
Khmer New Years Day (Mid April)

Celebrated at the same time as the Thai New Year all over the country this festival marks the turn of the year based on the ancient Khmer calendar and also marks the end of the harvest done during the year. Cambodians decorate their homes to please the Heaven God and many people can been seen on the streets armed with small bags of water and water pistols to bless people passing by. This festival is one of the happiest times of the year with joyous smiling faces everywhere you turn. Cambodians do recognize International New Year on 1 January but there are no celebrations then.

Royal Plowing Day (May)
Cambodia has a deep connection with the Earth and farming, and there is a deep astrological belief that the Ox has an instrumental role in determining the fate of the agricultural harvest each year. Every year, in May, this cultural ceremony takes place in the large park next to the Royal Palace and in front of the National Museum. The King plays a key role in driving the Ox and depicting real plowing activities in the process of growing rice. The Ox is given a selection of foods and beverages to consume and the royal soothsayers interpret what the Ox has eaten. For this festival both men and women can be seen wearing brightly colored traditional Khmer costume.
King Sihanouks birthday celebration (October 31st)

This celebration revering the countrys influential king takes place in late October or early November. People from all over the country come to the capital to join in celebrations and festivities held throughout the capital. Often the Kings birthday and Water festivals coincide resulting in a mammoth celebration in front of the Royal Palace and along the riverfront. Provincial villagers who would ordinarily have no reason to visit Phnom Penh will save up and make this occasion their sole visit to the capital.

Water Festival (October or November)
This vast festival is probably the most extravagant festival in the calendar. Over three days starting with the last full moon day in October or the beginning of November up to a million people from all walks of life from all over the country flock to the banks of the Tonle Sap and Mekong rivers in Phnom Penh to watch hundreds of brightly colored boats with over 50 paddlers battle it out for top honors. The boat racing dates back to ancient times marking the strength of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the Khmer empire. In the evening brightly decorated floats cruise along the river prior to and complimenting the fireworks displays. There is often a parallel festival at Angkor Wat and although it is smaller in scale it is just as impressive due to the backdrop of Angkor Wat.

The festival marks the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong river for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. It is at this time when the river flow reverts to its normal down stream direction. The remarkable phenomenon that is the Tonle Sap sees the river flowing upstream during the rainy season and then change direction as the rains cease and the swollen Tonle sap lake empties back into the Mekong river leaving behind vast quantities of the fish.

Independence Day
This important ceremony takes place on the 9th of November at the site of the Independence Monument at the junction of Norodom and Sihanouk Boulevards. This ceremony celebrates Cambodias gaining of independence from France in 1953. All over the city flags adorn the shop fronts and bunting stretched over all the main thoroughfares as a sign of national pride.


103 Cambodia in summaryPOSTED: 2009-10-15 12:27:56   REPLIED: 0

Cambodians comprise a variety of kids who are commonly called Khmer. The Khmer constitute about 91 percent of the population. The population also includes a diversity of other ethnic backgrounds: Chinese, Vietnamese, Chams, and hilltribes, called Khmer Roeu.

The Khmer are believed to have lived in the region from about the 2nd century CE. They may constitute a fusion of Mongul and Melanesian elements. They have been mainly influenced over the centuries by the powerful Indian and Japanese kingdoms. The Khmer-Loeu - or upland-Khmer - are one of the main tribal groups and live in the forested mountain zones, mainly in the North-East. Traditionally, the Khmer-Loeu were semi-nomadic and practiced slash and burn agriculture. In recent years, because of their increasing numbers, they have turned to settled agriculture and adopted many of the customs of the lowland Khmer.

There are about 500.000 Cham-Malays, descended from the The Chams of the royal kingdom of Champa, based in the present day central Vietnam. They now constitute the single largest ethnic minority in the country. The Chams were badly persecuted during the Pol Pot regime and their population more than halved. They are Muslims and their spiritual centre is Chur-Changvra near Phnom Penh. The Chams are traditionally cattle traders, silk weavers and butchers. The Chinese migrated in the 18th and 19th century to Cambodia, where most of them became involved in commerce. During the Pol Pot years and later many Chinese left the country or were killed. Today there is a population of about 100.000 left in Cambodia. Estimated 200.000 Vietnamese live in the country today. The southern part of Cambodia has always had many inhabitants of Vietnamese decent as well as the area around Phnom Penh.

The Cambodian religions on the whole are strongly influenced by early Indian and Chinese cultures. As early as the beginning of the Christian era the Indian traders brought - along with their products - their religion to the first Khmer state in Funan. Most of them were followers of Brahmanism (a forerunner of Hinduism), which merged with the existing animistic beliefs into a kind of new religion - hinduistic and local deities existing side by side.

During the Angkor period, which started at the beginning of the 8th century, various Hindu sects were promoted by the Angkor kings, especially the cults of Shiva and Vishnu, which is still to be seen in the art and architecture of that period. Jayavarman II crowned himself as a reincarnation of Shiva and reigned on the basis of the Hindu concept of the god-kings or devaraja. Hindu cosmology had a great impact on the whole Cambodian culture. Today, almost 91% of the population are Theravada-Buddhists - the faith has had a formative influence on everyday live and still has. It was reintroduced as the national religion in 1989.

Theravada-Buddhism entered the country in the 13th century and began to spread under King Jayavarman VII in the whole country, till it became state religion in the 15th century. As a popular religion, it held great attractions to a population which for many centuries had been denied access to the more elitist and extravagant devaraja cult. Many Cambodian males at some point of their lives, spend time in a Buddhist monastery and almost every village has a Buddhist temple - or wat - around which village life centers. Buddhist rituals follow the lunar calendar and there are several significant religious holidays and festivals that are widely observed.

Cambodian Buddhism appears an easy going faith and tolerates ancestor and territorial spirit worship, which is widely practised. There are often small rustic altars to the guardian spirits in the corner of pagodas. Many Khmer communities have achars, who share in the spiritual guidance of people but do not compete with the monks. Most important ceremonies - weddings, funerals, coming of age - have both Buddhist and animist elements. Today other religions in Cambodia are Islam and Christianity - there are around 500.000 Cham-Muslims belonging to the Sunni school and approximately 60.000 Christians, most of them Roman Catholics. Almost all the Chinese in Cambodia are Taoist or Confucianist.

Arts & Architecture
The height of Khmer art and architecture dates from the Angkor period. All the surviving monuments are built of stone or brick, and all are religious buildings. The culture and art of the early kingdoms of Funan and Chenla were central to the evolution of Angkorian art and architecture. Relics of the pre-Angkorian periods have been found all over South-Cambodia. Most of it is Hindu art, but a number of Mahayana-Buddhist Bodhisattvas have been found also. During Angkor period, architecture and its decoration were governed by a series of mystical and religious beliefs.

Common motifs in Khmer sculpture are apsaras (celestial nymphs), which have become a kind of symbol of the Khmer culture. The apsaras are carved with splendidly ornate jewellery, clothed in the latest Angkor fashion and represented the ultimate ideal of feminine beauty of that time. Other motifs are nagas (sacred aquatic snakes), which play an important part in Hindu mythology and are possibly more than any other motif charac-teristic of Southeast Asia. Most of these motifs have been taken from Indian art and have been modified into what is now known as traditional Khmer art.

Temples were designed to represent the cosmic Mt. Meru, the home of the gods of Indian cosmology, surrounded by oceans. Angkor literally means "city" or "capital", Wat means "temple". Angkor Wat is the largest and most famous of the architectural masterpieces of Cambodia and probably the largest religious building on earth. Conceived by Suryavarman II, Angkor Wat took an estimated 30 years to build. It is generally believed to have been a funeral temple for the king. It has been continuously occupied by monks and is well preserved.

Intricate bas reliefs surround Angkor Wat on four sides. Each tells a different story. The most celebrated of these is "The Churning of the Ocean of Milk", which is located on the east wing. Again, the central sanctuary of the temple complex represents Mt. Meru, the five towers symbolize Meru's five peaks, the enclosing wall represents the mountains at the edge of the world and the surrounding moat, the ocean beyond.

The symmetrical towers of Angkor Wat are stylized on the Cambodian flag and have become a symbol of Khmer culture.

The official Cambodian language, called Khmer, is part of the Mon-Khmer family, enriched by the Indian Pali and Sanskrit languages and influenced by Thai and French. Khmer is related to the languages spoken by hilltribe people of Laos, Vietnam and even Malaysia. It has no tones and the script is derived from the South-Indian alphabet, written from left to right and leaving no space between the words. English and French are spoken also - French mainly by some old people, whereas the younger generation learns English.


104 The United States and CambodiaPOSTED: 2009-10-06 11:22:23   REPLIED: 0

The United States and Cambodia signed a Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) in 2006. This dialogue is intended to promote greater trade and investment between the two countries, help monitor and support Cambodia's efforts to implement its WTO commitments, address outstanding bilateral issues, and coordinate work in APEC and the WTO.

The United States and Cambodia continued to make progress on trade- and investment- related issues in 2008 through the joint work program established under the TIFA. The TIFA dialogue focused on deepening bilateral trade and investment ties, implementation of Cambodia's WTO commitments, and supporting Cambodia's domestic economic reform program.

The two countries held four meetings throughout the year 2008 to review Cambodia's WTO implementation, to discuss specific initiatives to enhance Cambodia's business and investment climate, including through strengthening its intellectual property protection, and to coordinate on the WTO Doha negotiations and ASEAN initiatives.

In addition, the United States provided technical assistance to support improvements in the transparency of Cambodia's trade policy making process as well as in strengthening intellectual property protection at the border.

U.S.-Cambodia Trade Facts
Cambodia is currently our 78th largest goods trading partner with $2.6 billion in total (two ways) goods trade during 2008. Goods exports totaled $154 million; Goods imports totaled $2.4 billion. The U.S. goods trade deficit with Cambodia was $2.3 billion in 2008.

Cambodia was the United States' 131st largest goods export market in 2008.
U.S. goods exports to Cambodia in 2008 were $154 million, up 11% ($15 million) from 2007.
The top export categories (2-digit HS) for 2008 were: Vehicles ($118 million), Special Other (articles donated for relief) ($7 million), Machinery ($4 million), and Electrical Machinery ($3 million), and Optical and Medical Instrument ($3 million).
U.S. exports of agricultural products to Cambodia totaled $6 million in 2008.

Cambodia was the United States' 65th largest supplier of goods imports in 2008.
U.S. goods imports from Cambodia totaled $2.4 billion in 2008, a 2.1% decrease ($52 million) from 2007.
The top 5 imports categories (2-digit HS) for 2008 were: Knit Apparel ($1.6 billion), Woven Apparel ($786 million), Miscellaneous Textile Articles ($10 million), Plastic ($8 million), and Headgear ($5 million).
U.S. imports of agricultural products from Cambodia totaled $519 thousand in 2008.

Trade Balance
The U.S. goods trade deficit with Cambodia was $2.3 billion in 2008, down 3% ($67 million) from 2007.

Source: ustr.gov


105 Khmer HousesPOSTED: 2009-09-14 11:04:17   REPLIED: 13

The ancient Khmer houses, to the untrained eye, are similar to those found in contemporary Cambodia. Traditionally they are aligned to face the East for prosperity and as a mark of respect for the sun. They were also elevated about two and a half meters above the ground, supported on stilts. The access to the house is normally via a wooden ladder. The roofing was made of similar materials: thatched leaves or straw. The shady space underneath is used for storage and for people to relax at midday.

It is only upon closer examination that it is revealed that there are actually five distinct forms of housing, which have existed since Angkorian times. These five are known as: Khmer houses, Roong houses (today called Kantaing houses), Roong Daul houses, Roong Duong houses and Bet houses. An entirely separate style of housing is used to accommodate the monks; these are referred to as Keung houses.

Replied Message(s)

Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:04:46    

The Roong house, or Kantaing house, is built without front or back porch, some people build them long, ten by six meters, with three main columns supporting ridgepoles However, some people build short ones, six by four meters, with two center columns.

A Kantaing house was built with short and a gently sloping roof to make the building easier. At the turn of the century it was mostly housing used by Chinese and Vietnamese, however, it became increasingly more popular amongst Cambodians. If they cut obliquely at the front and the back of the main roof carving it into the shape of an animal's mouth then it is called a "Baknok Kantaing house". Usually this type of dwelling is about ten by six meters.

Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:05:38    

Roong Daul House

Roong Daul houses are built it into a long shape with shoulders for carrying the weight of the house: joining the roof-rafters. There is a small gable at the intersection of porches and there are both front and back porches. Some people build this one with three center pillars, which means they come with four compartments and if there are four center pillars there are five compartments.


Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:06:20    

Roong Duong House

Roong Duong housing, they build with a large roof and there are both the end piece of the roof at the front and the back.
There are three styles of Roong Duong house: the first gets its name from the alteration to accommodate a large foot powered rice mortar called a Kduoung mortar. The overhang at the back of these houses provides such a place.

The second style of Roong Duong house was developed for storage and an additional line of pillars was included in the original design. Hence, this kind of Roong Duong house has three lines of pillars with five compartments.
The third kind of Roong House was especially for high ranking or wealthy subjects. This was a further extension and made a much longer and larger dwelling. This was achieved by four lines of pillars, which formed five compartments.


Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:06:59    

Keng House

Keng house, they build with two classes of roof and a lower part. They enveloped the top floor and the lower floor surrounding them by a handrail. But this Keng house laymen rare build, usually, built in the compound of pagoda for Royal monk called "Keng of monk house."


Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:07:37    
Building ceremony

To begin they must fill in the land where they plan to build the house. After flattening the surrounding area, they will erect a warehouse structure to ensure they have all the suitable materials to build the actual house. As with all occasions an auspicious date must be chosen according to astrological observations. Most ancient Cambodians would build houses between January and March. There are certain days that they can start building, these are: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

In the past they didn't start on Sunday and Monday because of the word of custom says: " Sunday and Monday are the days of marrying wood", if they insist on building on these days then they have to be very careful in case it falls down. Although Tuesday is considered a lucky day, if a building were to be commenced on this day it would never be finished. Thus Tuesdays were also avoided as starting days. Before starting to build, they usually put a pair of Sator (an offering made from coconut, candles and incense) and they light the candles and incense sticks to pray to the god called "Prah Phoum" (the god of the village). They ask permission to build and show the spirit where the house will be built. After that, they place wooden sticks to be markers called "Khneng Phoum". When they dig the hole for the pillars they are very careful with rubbish falling into them. They believed that if the rubbish falls in the hole the house, when completed, would receive a multitude of guests. On the actual day of building they take a piece of red cloth to tie at the top of center pillars. They also prepare black sugarcane, which still has both white root and leaves on it. This is the tied higher than the center pole. After that, they prepare a ceremony called "Pithy Sen", in the ceremony there is a boiling of pig head, a pair of chicken, two cups of tea or some wine, four fruits, one riel of money, a white piece of cloth for a shirt, a bowl of perfume and a suitcase of construction ware. The clergy recites prayers and sprays the water to the top of those center pillars, and next the chief of the contractor prays to the Prah Pisnoukar while the clergy hit three times of Khmous (a kind of metal used to be hit when there is a ceremony or wedding) all contractors gather to pull up the center pillars very quickly. Although nowadays the ritual and symbolism may be loosing its role, the end result is still a functional and ever practical solution to housing. It is for these reasons: of being both practical and affordable that the Khmer house has endured through the centuries and will no doubt continue to do so. It would be easy to overlook the cultural and social history involved in the ancient Khmer houses.


Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:08:02    
Factors to be avoided in construction of a house

- A levee in a rice field goes straight to the front of the house
- A Tamarind tree grows on the left side of the house and a well on the West
- All kinds of roots growing into the ground house because it will cause the house owners to be scared
- Building escorting cook house (have to build parallel to deep of main house)
- The main roof running parallel to the road
- The top of the pillars is bigger than the foot of the pillars
- Building in front of temple because it stays in front of Gods eyes it would cause difficulties when he opens his eyes in the morning.


Replied on: 2009-09-14 14:08:41    
The choosing of pillars

Khmers, with their strongly developed superstitions, are cautious about the kind of pillars used in the construction of a house. Thus, the contractor needs to select pillars and timbers carefully.

If any wood has the symbols that they cannot use them to build the house they have to replace them. The symbols are as follows:

- Paim Sambak Wood: the wood has bark inside. This is because when the tree was young it was chopped. When the tree matured the wood covered that place and lead to having the bark on the inside. The ancient Khmers didn't allow its use; it would cause danger to people who live in such a house.
- Konlong Wood: the wood that has a bad inner heart. They can see through a lot of three point of articulations around the tree. Ancient elders didn't allow using as center pillar because it will cause chronic disease.
- The tree that has the whole inside, but if it has the whole from the foot to the top it is allowed to use it. Such a tree is called " Banghot Tnaol."
- The wood that has been used as a scratching post by pigs is considered bad luck.
- The wood that has the symbol of chicken foot at the foot of tree is also inappropriate.
- The pillars must not to have sub joint of articulation under the crossbars, bolts and bars.
- The contractors cannot carve at the middle of the pillars to put crossbars, bars and bolts.

Leisure Cambodia

Replied on: 2009-09-28 13:39:49    


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