Discover interesting facts about the Cambodian culture!
Cambodian cuisine is a fusion of many different cultural food, such as Thai, Vietnamese, China, and India. One of the most popular or common dishes is called ka tieu, a noodle soup consisting of rice noodles with pork stock and toppings.
2. Angkor Wat (“Capital Temple”)
Angkor Wat is the largest religious monument in the world. It was first dedicated as a Hindu temple until it became a Buddhist temple. The temple itself was built by the Khmer King Suryavarman II in the early 12th century as his state temple and eventual mausoleum. It has become a symbol of Cambodia, appearing on its national flag, and is the country’s prime attraction for visitors.
3. Classical Dance
The Royal Ballet of Cambodia, is a Khmer classical dance established in the royal courts of Cambodia for the purpose of entertainment as well as ceremonial propitiation. The elegant and beautifully costumed performers below are evoking the legendary apsaras of Hindu mythology.
4. Khmer Rouge
When the radical communist Khmer Rouge under their leader Pol Pot seized power in 1975 after years of guerrilla warfare, he pursued a mass genocide in pursuit of a rural utopia. The Khmer Rouge abolished money and private property and ordered city dwellers into the countryside to cultivate the fields. This led up to the death of two million people (20% of the population), many from exhaustion or starvation, while others were tortured and executed. It was not until a Vietnamese-led invasion in 1979 that the Khmer Rouge rule came to an end.
To say hello in Khmer it is pronounced “chum ree-up sua”. Goodbye is pronounced as “chum ree-up lee-ah”. The gesture you would use is called sampeah. There are five distinct ways to greet to show respect and politeness. Between friends, place the palms of your hands together at chest level. Anyone older or higher ranking it is at mouth level. Parents, grandparents or teachers it is at the nose level. Monks and kings are at the eyebrow level. God and sacred statues are at the forehead level.
The national garment of Cambodia, is the sampot It is basically a sarong similar to those worn in neighboring Laos and Thailand, with slight variations.
7. Don’t Touch the Head!
In Khmer culture a person’s head is believed to contain the person’s soul—therefore it is taboo to touch or point one’s feet at it because the feet is consider impure due to it being the lowest part of your body. So please do avoid pointing your feet to any person!
8. Chaul Chnam Thmey
Cambodians celebrate their New Year, Chaul Chnam Thmey, on April 13th or 14th for three days. This is the time of year that marks the end of the harvesting season before the rainy season begins.
On the first day, Maha Songkran, families pay homage at shrines to offer thanks. For good luck people wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon, and their feet in the evening before they go to bed.
The second day, Vara Vanabat, people contribute charities to the less fortunate and attend dedication ceremonies to honor their ancestors.
The third day, T’ngai Loeng Sak, Buddhists wash the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. The symbolic bathing of the Buddha is a practice to wash away the bad actions and is often thought to bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life.
What cultural experiences have you encountered? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section below. We’d love to hear from you!
Meyee Cha (SEAC Public Relations)