Cambodia celebrated the traditional royal ploughing ceremony here on Saturday to mark the annual start of farming season in this Southeast Asian nation.
Nation's King Norodom Sihamoni, along with Cambodian officials and foreign diplomats, took part in the ceremony which was held in Kandal province's Takhmao town, just 10 km south of Phnom Penh, the capital of Cambodia. The event also attracted hundreds of local and foreign visitors.
Since ancient times, royal oxen were used to plough and predict agricultural yields and weather in the year.
In this year's event, King Sihamoni assigned Kandal provincial governor Phay Bunchhoeun as the King of the ploughing ceremony and the governor's wife as the Queen of sowing ceremony.
The designated King ploughed the rice field by using royal oxen and the appointed Queen sowed seeds on the furrow as the symbol of planting.
After three rounds of ploughing across the field, the oxen were offered 7 plates of food: rice, corn, green beans, sesame, water, fresh-cut grass, and wine.
Customarily, if the oxen eat a lot of agricultural items, it is believed that agricultural crops will give good output in the year, but if they eat little, it is thought that the yields will be low.
If the oxen eat grass and wine, it will be predicted that cattle will be plagued by epidemics, and if they drink a lot of water, floods will be expected.
At the event, the oxen ate green bean, corn and rice. A court soothsayer predicted that the three types of crops would give fairly good yields this year. "This is just a prediction based on the custom of the royal ploughing ceremony in old times," Kang Keng, chief of the soothsayers at the Royal Palace, announced. "This event is to notify farmers that agricultural season has come."
Cambodia is an agrarian country with over 80 percent of the population being farmers.