Stories from Bunong Communities in Northeastern Cambodia

Fixing an unfit marriage

Story-teller Hea Phoeun, Don Kraoch
Age 60
Recording time/date 19 October 2014
Recording place At Hea Phoeun’s house in Laoka Village, Senmonorom, Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
Language(s) used Bunong, Khmer
Category Ritual

The Bunong community these days are still concerned about a couple who are close relatives to each other, for instance, cousins, or a couple who are members of a family with a bad profile. When such a couple wants to get married, they must hold a gratifying (leas leang) ceremony before their marriage becomes official. At a leas leang ceremony, one of the three types of animals, namely a pig, a cow, or a buffalo, is sacrificed, depending upon how unfit the couple is and what mistakes they have made to their ancestors. If the couple does not hold a leas leang ceremony, their ancestors become angry. Their family members, relatives, and fellow villagers might get sick or will not become prosperous.
At a ceremony, the unfit couple has to take blood from a sacrificed animal and put the blood on their head. They also put the blood into a jar, mix it with wine, hold up the jar, and pray to the ancestors and ask them for forgiveness. The couple then pours the wine around spiritual stupas in the village and pray to the ancestors again, while uttering, “Your children offer blood from a pig (or a cow, or a buffalo) to you spiritual ancestors. So, please do not make anybody get sick, a fever, or a bad luck.” After the leas leang ceremony, the couple holds a wedding ceremony and invites their relatives and fellow villagers. The meat from the sacrificed animal is shared between the families of the bride and the bridegroom.