Traditional Games on Decline in Villages

A woman plays a game during Khmer New Year celebrations at Chau Say Tevoda temple in Siem Reap province on April 14, 2022. Photo by TANG CHHIN Sothy / AFP

SIEM REAP – Fewer people​ have gathered for traditional games before Khmer New Year compared with the last ten years, residents of some villages say, blaming changes in lifestyles.

Pet Bunthoeun, of Salat Thmey village in Kampong Speu province, said that in 2010 when he was young, children and villagers gathered to play traditional games, causing excitement in the whole village.

But now the older generation does not lead the children to enjoy the games anymore.

“In my time, a lot of villagers played the traditional games,” Bunthoeun said.

“They started playing from the beginning of March until the New Year. Now it seems that there are not many people who enjoy the games, which is different from my generation.”

Traditional games had become less popular because some young people were busy with work and some had gone to work far from the village, he reasoned.

Young children were less interested in playing games because they were not led by adults. Bunthoeun is also worried about the potential loss of the games if they are not played by the young generation.

Some of the popular attractive and traditional games are Teagn Prot (tug-of-war), Bos Angkunh (throwing brown nuts), Chab Kon Kleng, Chaol Chhoung, Leak Kanseng (hide the towel), and breaking the clay pots.

Phuong La, Chief of Toul Ampil commune’s Prey Peay village in Kampong Speu province, echoed Bunthoeun’s views, saying that in the past, villagers played traditional games from March until the New Year.

During the day, they played Chaol Chhoung, Bos Angkunh and Teagn Prot. But now Phuong La has noticed that the children do not play anymore.

“When I was young, adults and the old took us to play the traditional games,” he said. “It was exhilarating, but now the younger ones do not play anymore. It is probably because they are busy and are always on their smartphones.”

The Ministry of Education has called on all educational institutions to lead students to play traditional games and practice traditional dances.

The aim was to take part in preserving and promoting Khmer culture, beliefs and traditions as well as celebrating Khmer New Year.


Originally written in Khmer for ThmeyThmey, this story was translated by Teng Yalirozy for Cambodianess.

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