Revelers Seek Good Fortunes

takhmau district, Kandal pro­vince—In search of prosperity, good luck and protection from bad spirits in the coming year, thousands of people turned out Thursday in Takhmau town for the annual Chinese Earth Spirit Festival.

Loud, colorful and at times frenetic, the festival honoring the area’s powerful earth spirits wound around Takhamu’s streets for more than two hours before finishing in the town’s market.

For superstitious spectators, the main attraction in the thousand-strong procession of flag bearers, Chinese dancing lions and wailing music was the people said to be possessed by the earth spirits themselves.

Wearing traditional Chinese ceremonial clothes, the possessed stood atop trucks that moved through the crowds, which waited  for a gift from the gods.

The gift came at regular intervals when each of the spirit mediums would raise a ceremonial sword to his mouth and slice the blade across his tongue. Cere­monial Chinese paper was then quickly passed over the open wounds by assistants who handed the blood-stained paper to the crowd. At times people tussled with each other, grabbing at the strips of prized paper.

Soeng Por Yi, a Chinese-Cam­bodian, said the paper is said to bring good luck for the year ahead.

The paper is good for everything from ensuring an increase in wealth to chasing away evil ghosts that may cause mischief in a person’s house, Soeng Por Yi said.

When a particularly strong and evil spirit was detected in a house, the procession stopped as a spirit medium jumped down from the float to splash water on the affected home.

Sam Bora, 32, also Chinese-Cambodian, said he remembers attending the festival as a young boy during the Lon Nol regime, which ruled from 1970 to 1975.

Waiting to receive a piece of the blood-swiped paper, Sam Bora said it is considered better luck to hang the strips inside the house.

“Keeping the paper inside is better than outside,” he said. “If you put it outside it means you will attract money, but it won’t stay for long.”

 

 

 

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