PHNOM PENH, Reuters
Cambodian royal oxen predicted good agricultural conditions for the coming year at a traditional planting season ceremony outside the royal palace on Friday.
Offered a range of food and drink at the colorful ceremony, the oxen chose to eat nearly all the beans, signifying a good harvest for the crop, and smaller amounts of maize and rice, signifying average harvests for those crops.
They did not drink the water or alcohol on offer, which means Cambodia will have enough rain but no flooding.
“The oxen’s eating this year predicts that the country will have rather good conditions for agricultural products,” palace priest Din Proum said at the ceremony.
“According to the eating, rice yields will be average, maize yields will be average and bean yields will be good,” he said.
“They did not eat sesame or grass, which means that a lot of insects will attack those plants… The oxen didn’t drink any water, which means there will be enough rain for the plantations but there won’t be any floods.”
The oxen made similar predictions about rainfall last year and Cambodia suffered its worst floods in 70 years.
The ceremony, attended by King Norodom Sihanouk, Queen Monineath, Prime Minister Hun Sen, top government officials, diplomats and hundreds of onlookers, was presided over by Undersecretary of State Chan Sarun and his wife Sok Keo.
Clad in traditional court costume, Sok Keo, led the team of royal oxen, which were driven by Chan Sarun, an agriculture ministry official and adviser to Hun Sen, to plow a symbolic furrow.
The plowing ceremony was abandoned during decades of conflict in Cambodia but revived by Sihanouk in 1994.