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Lighting up the Water Festival

Khmer Times Staff / Khmer Times Share:
Workers set up scaffolding on barges and attach lighting displays featuring traditional images and the names of the ministries sponsoring the barges. KT/Fabien Mouret

Preparations are well underway for the Water Festival, or Bon Om Touk in Khmer, a unique celebration in Cambodia that marks the reversal of the flow of water in the Tonle Sap river and which is held from November 2 to 4.

KT/Fabien Mouret

Towns and villages from every province celebrate the festival, but the biggest party takes place in Phnom Penh, with several days of boat racing along the section of the Tonle Sap adjacent to Sisowath Quay, more popularly known as the Riverside.

KT/Fabien Mouret

In the evenings during the festival, illuminated and decorated barges cruise up and down the river, lighting up the waterway. Various government ministries sponsor the barges, which feature scaffolding holding the names of the ministries as well as traditional decorations.

KT/Fabien Mouret

In the past week, workers have been setting up the lighting on the barges, which will look spectacular as they cruise the river after dark.

KT/Fabien Mouret

Officials estimate about two million people are expected to arrive in the capital to watch the boat races and to celebrate the Water Festival. Traffic will be blocked on the streets leading to the Riverside due to the large number of people on foot making their way to the waterfront.

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