Siem Reap visitors can experience Royal Ploughing Ceremony -

March 18, 2010 (PRLEAP.COM) Travel News highlights people booking hotels in Siem Reap later this year might like to visit Phnom Penh for the annual Royal Ploughing Ceremony.

Usually held in May, this ancient royal rite allows Cambodian people to mark the beginning of the rice-growing season and is also observed in Thailand.

The ceremony traditionally takes place in the grounds of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, where two sacred oxen are used for a symbolic ploughing procession.

After ploughing a furrow in the Cambodian capital's Veal Preahmein Square, the animals are led to seven golden trays containing different foods - rice, corn, sesame seeds, beans, grass, water and wine.

Predictions are then made by royal soothsayers for the coming year's harvest, depending on what the oxen decide to eat.

According to the Tourism Cambodia website, last year the sacred animals ate mainly rice, corn and beans, while largely ignoring the contents of the other trays.

This was taken to mean that farmers would see a moderate yield in the rice harvest but enjoy a strong output in their secondary crops, especially corn and beans.

The ceremony is usually presided over by the monarch - currently King Norodom Sihamoni - although prime minister Hun Sen has also overseen proceedings.