Stories from Bunong Communities in Northeastern Cambodia

A Planting and harvest ceremony

Story-teller Khoeuk Keosineam
Age 27
Recording time/date 20 October 2014
Recording place At her house in Pocha Village, Bousra, Pichreada, Mondulkiri Province, Cambodia
Language(s) used Bunong, Khmer
Category Ritual

The Bunong community still practices a planting and harvest ceremony at each family between the time when they plant rice and other crops and the time when they harvesting them. When the wet season starts in May, Bunong villagers start to plant rice. They offer a chicken, especially its blood and liver, to spiritual ancestors. After that, they invite fellow villagers to go and plant rice. When they finish planting, they drink a jar of wine together.

Each Bunong family has to practice a harvest (chouch royos) ceremony in October, November, or December, when crops have fully grown. Villagers cut bamboo trees and peel the surface to make a doll in a shape of a wild swan. This is called royos. They then sacrifice a pig and paint its blood on the top, middle, and bottom parts of royos. The number of royos that villagers make depends on how many rice fields (chamkar) they have, as they place one royos at each rice field they have.

About 10 to 20 days later, villagers pull out the royos from the rice field and harvest crops. They measure the rice yield with kapa. If a family gets the yield of around 50 to 60 kapa, they hold a chouch norak ceremony and sacrifice a chicken. If they get the yield of about 70 to 100 kapa, they offer a pig to express their gratitude to the rice spirit. They put animal blood on the royos and place it in the rice field. They then offer sticky rice together with chicken or pig liver and pray, while uttering, “We are about to harvest rice and take it to our house. So, you spirit, follow us to our place.”