Cambodia Cultures And Celebrations

Cambodia is found between Thailand and Vietnam in mainland south East Asia. It is bordered by Laos to the North although it has a coastline ...

Cambodia is found between Thailand and Vietnam in mainland south East Asia. It is bordered by Laos to the North although it has a coastline on the gulf of Thailand.

Origins and Overview

Cambodia is derived from the French word cambodge’ which also has origins from the native Khmer word Kampuchea. It means born of Kambu’. From 1975 to 1989, it was actually known with its Khmer name Kampuchea. Khmer itself is a term referring to the people and culture of Cambodia and between 1970 and 1975 the country was known as KR republic. Its development into a nation started with the systematic organization of rice farming and political units and ended with the formation of the Khmer empire which lasted from about 802-1431. It did not have a fixed size and even at certain periods took over parts of Siam (Thailand) and Vietnamese lands. However, with the emergence of strong empires from both these regions, the Khmer empire receded and would have been absorbed by its neighbours but for the colonization by the French.
The major population is made up of the Khmer people as they make up about 90-95% of the country’s population. The country is densely populated along the rivers where they practice wet rice agriculture. The main language Khmer is related to a number of neighbouring Asian dialects like Vietnamese and Mon. Having been a colony of France, French forms one of the western languages being spoken with the other being English. It is the French who structured and formalized the boundaries and government system while also introducing secular education which had not existed as the only structured form of teaching was the religious kind provided by the monks. Other ethnic minorities include the Vietnamese and the Cham.

Cultural symbols and practices

The first major cultural symbol of Cambodia is the Angkor Wat. It is also the main tourist attraction of the country. It is a temple built in the 12th century and holds the reputation of being the largest religious monument of its kind in the world. It started as a Hindu and finally Buddhist temple and aside from the beautiful architecture it is home to some great Khmer cultural artifacts. The cultural practices in Cambodia vary and most have religious attachments. Popular ones include greeting with a bow and hands clasped at the front like in prayer and the bow is deeper for people deserving greater respect. Indirect eye contact is a form or respect and direct eye contact is only made with one’s social equals. Temples are hallowed places and you cannot enter with your shoes on and once in people sit with crossed legs.

Celebrations and festivals

Cambodia’s culture does not celebrate birthdays but they have a number of festivals to make up for that. If you are looking for a green card to this place here is what to look out for. First there is the Khmer New year celebration which lasts for three days and is a period for thanking Buddha. Then there is the Water festival (Bonn Om Tuk) which celebrates the Mekong River reversing its current. It is an activity filled celebration including boat races. Other celebrations include the all souls day that runs for fifteen days and the Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

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Cambodia Travel Forum: Cambodia Cultures And Celebrations
Cambodia Cultures And Celebrations
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