Cambodia's royal oxen eat beans and corn, forecasting a good harvest for the two crops during the country's upcoming agricultural season. Sharon Reich reports.
It's a procession befitting royalty. Cambodia's royal oxen are taking part in an annual plouging ceremony. Two ox tied to a wooden log plough through the ceremonial grounds and afterwards, are offered sesame, rice, corn, beans, grass, wine and water. What they choose to consume is believed to determine if the farming season will have a good or bad harvest. This year, the oxen opted for beans and corn, a combination believed to signify a good harvest for both crops. The annual ritual is taken seriously by many of Cambodia's superstitious, and largely poor farmers if not by most of the politicians and diplomats who attend it as well. (SOUNDBITE) Cambodian Ban Gnan, saying (Khmer): "Our Khmer people believe in Buddhism and through this ploughing ceremony I believe that whatever the royal oxen eat, we will have a good harvest of that crop in the coming year." (SOUNDBITE) Cambodian On Soeun, saying (Khmer): "I really believe that this year the farmers will have a good harvest of beans and corn, exactly as the royal oxen ate." Cambodia still relies heavily on livestock animals for farming and transportation rather than farming machinery. The ceremony draws hundreds of people and takes place in a different province each year.