Bonn Om Teuk (the Festival of Boat Racing) is an annual boat rowing contest which has become the largest spectator event in Cambodia as well as a national festival. And Most of Cambodian people flock from different provinces and cities into Phnom Penh capital in order to watch boat racings on Mekong River.
Bonn Om Teuk lasts three days so that boats from near and far provinces can join the contest. Therefore the Water Festival Ceremony is the army training to do attest of the army for preparing to do a battle. By the way, this festival is prepared very year to choose Champion of sailing battle, as in Bayon temple, Batteay Chhmar in the Preah Bat Jayvarman VII.
In Cambodia, there are many statues depicting sailing battles under the leadership of King Jayvarman VII, originally carved on the wall of Angkor Thom temple. Because of this Bonn Om Teuk has become a very important traditional festival in Cambodia, and an opportunity to admire the military exercises of the naval forces.
In addition, holding the festival is to mark the changing of the flow of the Tonle Sap River and is also seen as thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land and abundant fish. And at the time, the Tonle Sap River reverts to its normal down-stream direction.
In Cambidia, during the Water Festival, most of Cambodian people come to Phnom Penh but during the Khmer New Year and P’chum Ben Day, those flock to provinces in order to meet their families and relatives. And it is so quiet in Capital. I am waiting for thisfestival….!!!
Oh, I almost forgot the Water Festival itself – which takes place on about 1.7km of river (the competition course) with over 400 rowing boats and approximately 20,000 rowers from all the different provinces across the country.