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A Rare Glimpse Into Local Cambodian Culture

Date 20 Jul 2017 | Posted by Linda Paul

Cambodian Culture

Cambodia has a very rich indigenous culture which is untainted by urban lifestyle. The Cambodians are very proud of the lifestyle and traditions that have been passed down to them from their ancestors, and they’re resolute in protecting what they have been given. Their culture and tradition is extremely rich, and it dates back many centuries. Over the centuries the indigenous Buddhism and Hinduism traditions synchronized leaving a very thin barrier to separate the difference between the two. If you’re heading to Cambodia in the future, this article will help you understand the local Cambodian culture.

1. Chumreap Suor

The locals normally greet each other with Sampeah, which is basically pressing the palms together before the chest with a subtle bow. During the low bow, the locals greet each other with a polite” ‘Chumreap Suor’. According to the custom, the higher the hands are over the chest, the lower the bow. A deep, low bow shows the highest level of respect. However, when the locals are greeting an elderly person or government official they end up shaking their hands instead of bowing. Women greet both men and women in the same way. There is no obligation on tourists to follow the custom; they can get away with a formal handshake. However, it does show respect when a foreigner follows the customs of the land.

2. Traditional Dances

The Cambodian traditional dances have many classical forms. The ones that are highly stylized art form used to be performed by females at the courts of royal palaces. This dance form is officially known in Khmer as Robam Apsara, and the dancers themselves are called Apsara dancers.

This dance form has been around for more than thousands of years. The carvings in the Angkor temple show that ancient Cambodians used to revel in this dance form. A lot of the dance forms from ancient times were passed down through generations and the carvings themselves. We can easily say that this dance form has been embedded in the local Cambodian culture for millennium. Tourists have access to a lot of dance performances while they are in Cambodia, and it’ll be unwise not to see at least one.

3. Khmer Wedding

Traditional Cambodian weddings consist of multiple ceremonies which last up to three days and three nights. The wedding ceremony begins when the groom and his family travel to the bride’s home laden with gifts for her family as dowry. The rings are exchanged in front of family members and friends. During the ring ceremony, family members and friends get to know each other a little better as well, because the interaction between the two parties is encouraged.

Three songs are played one after the other, the first announcing the groom, the second the dowry and the third is an invitation to the elders to chew Betel Nut. During the tea ceremony the couple offers tea to the spirits of their ancestors.

4. Kbach Kun Dambong Vèng

This is a literal reference to the ancient Cambodian martial art which involves the use of staff. For thousands of years it has been practiced to prepare against enemies who might be dangerous to either their village or country. Now it is just a popular sport that is practiced in Cambodian Youth Clubs.

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