The Royal Ploughing Ceremony is an ancient royal rite held in Cambodia and Thailand to mark the traditional beginning of the rice-growing season.

In the Khmer language, it is called "Pithi Chrat Preah Neangkol, and in the Thai language, it is called "Phraraj Pithi Jarod Phranangkal Reak Na Kwan."

In 2009, the ceremony was held on May 11 in Thailand and on May 12 in Cambodia.

The date is usually in May, but varies as it is determined by Hora (astrology) (Thai: โหราศาสตร์ (ho-ra-sat).

In the ceremony, two sacred oxen are hitched to a wooden plough and they plough a furrow in some ceremonial ground, while rice seed is sown by court Brahmins.
After the ploughing, the oxen are offered plates of food, including rice, corn, green beans, sesame, fresh-cut grass, water and rice whisky.

Depending on what the oxen eat, court soothsayers make a prediction on whether the coming growing season will be bountiful or not.

The ceremony is rooted in Brahman belief, and is held to ensure a good harvest.

In Thailand, the rite dates back to the Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1438). By the time of King Prajadhipok in the 1920s, the practice had been discontinued. It was revived in 1960 by King Bhumibol Adulyadej.[1][2]

In both Cambodia and Thailand, the ceremony is typically presided over by the monarch, or an appointee. Sometimes the monarch himself has taken part in the ceremony and actually guided the plough behind the oxen.

In recent years in Thailand, Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn has presided over the ceremony, which is held at Sanam Luang in Bangkok.

Rice grown on the Chitralada Palace grounds, home of King Bhumibol Adulyadej is sown in the ceremony, and afterward, onlookers swarm the field to gather the seed, which is believed to be auspicious.

Farmers will often mix the grains with their own rice stock, or the grains might be kept as a good luck charm.

In Cambodia, both King Norodom Sihamoni and Prime Minister Hun Sen have overseen the rite.


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