Chlong Chet: an annual rite for Neak Ta

A big mound with many kinds of trees appears at the East of the village. The mound is called Kok Ta Pream (mound of grandfather braahma) where a hut of Neak Ta, local spiritual guardian, exists. During the civil war of 1970s, two bombs were dropped on the mound, and created two tinny ponds within 1m deep by 10m square, filled by water in rainy season.

Annually, residents, who are living around here, always come to this mound to regularly celebrate traditional rites to pay homage to Neak Ta for prosperity and abundant to their villages and its residents. Traditionally, they come here two times per year in February and April. In some cases, they irregularly come here in the emergency moment.

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Preparing food for ceremony

This year, at the end of April, the community of three villages of Ta Kuy, Kok Reussei and Trapeang Svay prepared for “Chlong Chet/ឆ្លងចេត្រ” together as they always did. However, not so many people attended because some have to leave to their farms which are far from the village, while other migrated to Thailand.

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Preparing the offerings

Chlong means pass and Chet is the fourth month of lunar calendar. It is a yearly rite for local in Siem Reap as this represents that the month of rainy season will come next. Due to the tropical climate, the rainy season will start at May to October, the cycle of rice growing in Cambodia. People, although, took this time to pay homage to Neak Ta to obtain the rain for agriculture, according to the study of Prof. Ang Choulean. This is the reason why people do in this time.

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Pay homage to Neak Ta

Last four years, having donation from the monks, the Neak Ta’s hut was rebuild with concrete and other buildings were renovated in the same time. The Buddha statue has been installed in the building next to Neak Ta’s hut, then we sometime confuse this cult to Buddhism. In contrast, monks play role in very short moment for the whole ceremony. A big deal of the ceremony is Neak Ta because people need rain for growing rice after April.

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Children making sand mountain

During the ceremony, they build the sand mountain in front of Neak Ta’s hut, symbolizing to the cycle of year, and which is explained by the local that the sand mountain symbolizes to the sin purification. After that, three old men entered to Neak Ta’s hut to pay homage to and stated to Neak Ta about the program they would do, and also invited Neak Ta to have food.

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Tug-of-war

In the final day, people gathered in front of the hut to dance and sing “Trut” for Neak Ta in order to get back the happiness and the rain for the coming rainy season. Tug-of-war was also appeared. At the end, villagers dance, while other play popular games.

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