Water Festival Ceremony in Cambodia

Water Festival Ceremony, also known as Bon Om Touk in the local Khmer language, is a significant and vibrant event in Cambodia. This annual celebration marks the unique natural phenomenon of the Tonle Sap river reversing its flow, which coincides with the end of the rainy season.

The Water Festival Ceremony usually takes place in November, but the exact dates vary each year based on the lunar calendar. The event lasts for three days and nights, with the full moon marking the end of the ceremony.


The Water Festival Ceremony has been celebrated in Cambodia for centuries, tracing its origins back to the 12th century during the reign of King Jayavarman VII. The festival was initially a way to honor the naval forces after their victories in battle and to give thanks to the gods for providing water for the kingdom's agriculture. Over time, the event has evolved into a celebration of Cambodia's unique natural phenomenon and a way to pay homage to the river's significance in the nation's history and culture.


National customs for Water Festival Ceremony in Cambodia

The Water Festival Ceremony is celebrated throughout Cambodia, with the most significant and grandest events taking place in the capital city, Phnom Penh. The festival is marked by various customs, including boat races, fireworks, live music, and traditional dance performances.

One of the main highlights of the Water Festival Ceremony is the boat races, known as Bonn Om Touk. These races feature long, colorful boats paddled by teams of rowers from different provinces, villages, and organizations. The boat races are a symbol of unity and a way to pay respect to the water and the gods.

Another essential custom during the Water Festival Ceremony is the illuminated float parade, known as Loei Niyai. These beautifully decorated floats, adorned with lights and symbols, make their way along the river, accompanied by music and dance performances.

Local customs for Water Festival Ceremony in Cambodia

While the Water Festival Ceremony is celebrated nationally, some local customs and traditions make the event unique in different provinces and villages. In some areas, people prepare and share special dishes with their friends and family as a way to strengthen their relationships and mark the occasion.

In other regions, locals may perform traditional rituals and ceremonies to pay respect to their ancestors and ask for blessings from the gods. These customs may include offering food, incense, and flowers at local temples or shrines, as well as participating in group prayers and meditation.


The Water Festival Ceremony in Cambodia is a vibrant and meaningful event that highlights the nation's unique natural phenomenon, rich history, and cultural traditions. With its exciting boat races, colorful parades, and various customs and rituals, the Water Festival Ceremony offers a fascinating insight into Cambodia's heritage and the importance of water in the lives of its people.