Water Festival in Cambodia Concludes with Award Ceremony

Oarsmen take part in boat racing during the Water Festival on the Tonle Sap river of Phnom Penh, Cambodia, Nov. 28, 2023. Photo by Sovannara/Xinhua

PHNOM PENH -- Cambodia's traditional Water Festival came to an end successfully here Tuesday evening, attracting hundreds of thousands of spectators.

King Norodom Sihamoni, accompanied by Prime Minister Hun Manet, attended the closing ceremony, presenting trophies to the fastest and most beautiful boats in the three-day regatta.

Bou Chumserey, vice-chairman of the boat-racing technical control committee, said a total of 337 boats with 20,417 oarsmen took part in the regatta, which saw participants racing their boats along a 1.7-km stretch of the Tonle Sap river that runs in front of the royal palace.

"Thanks to Cambodia's full peace and stability, people from across the country have traveled to the capital Phnom Penh to participate in this water festival," he said in a speech at the closing event.

Chumserey said the boat race, which was the centerpiece of the water festival, was to honor the strength of the powerful Khmer marine forces during the ancient Khmer Empire in the late 11th century.

The festival was also to mark the end of the annual rainy season and the unique reversal flow of the Tonle Sap river that connects the Tonle Sap lake with the Mekong river, he added.

Water festival is one of the largest annual festivals in the Southeast Asian country. Besides viewing the regatta during the daytime, festival-goers can enjoy the procession of illuminated floats and fireworks as well as concerts at nighttime.

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