Cambodia’s royal oxen predicted a plentiful harvest of rice, the country’s biggest crop, at an ancient plowing ceremony on Wednesday.
King Norodom Sihamoni presided over the televised annual ritual in which two oxen are given offerings after plowing a field, marking the start of the rice-growing season in the Southeast Asian country.
the annual ancient royal rite is conducted by Cambodia’s court Brahmins.
They lead the sacred oxen in three rounds of ceremonial ploughing after which the bovines are offered a choice of rice, corn, bean, sesame, grass, water, and rice wine.
Their decisions can be ominous or auspicious, and the amounts eaten also indicate what is in store for country in the year ahead.
A Brahmin priest announced that, “85 percent of rice were eaten, 90 percent of corns were eaten, and 85 percent of bean were eaten” by the oxen, which predicted a large increase in the harvest of these crops, as reported by VOA Cambodia.
“I pray ... for seasonal rain and regular weather,” Korng Ken, a Brahmin priest dressed in traditional white robes, said at the ceremony in Takeo province.
He prayed that “Cambodia avoid any natural disasters that would destroy the agriculture harvests which are the lives of the people and country.”
The national ceremony, which is televised live, was in the past often held next to the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, but was this year staged in Takeo Province’s Daun Keo City on a football pitch prepared for the occasion.
The good omen will be welcomed in Cambodia after the European Union imposed tariffs in January on rice from Cambodia and Myanmar in a bid to protect EU producers. Cambodia has since seen a surge in rice exports to China.
According to Reuters, Cambodia’s ceremony mirrors similar traditions in nearby Thailand and Myanmar in which oxen ceremonially plow the ground and then choose between eating bowls of rice, beans, corn water, grass, sesame seeds or alcohol.
Thailand’s royal oxen predicted a good harvest at a plowing ceremony this month presided over by newly crowned King Maha Vajiralongkorn and his queen.