Oarsmen and boats at Bon Om Touk, or the Water Festival, that kicked off in Phnom Penh on November 21 (Photo: AFP/VNA)

Phnom Penh (VNA) – Thousands of oarsmen and hundreds of dragon-shaped boats from across Cambodia gathered at the Tonle Sap River stretch in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh on November 21 to take part in Bon Om Touk, or the Water Festival.

This year’s event saw the participation of 295 dragon boats with over 19,000 oarsmen.

The biggest festival of Cambodia also marks the end of the rainy season. On this occasion, Cambodians traditionally offer farm produce they made to thank the Moon god for bumper crops and to pray for better harvests in the future.

The annual boat race on the Tonle Sap River in front of the Royal Palace is held to remember the strength of the kingdom’s navy force during the Angkor Empire between the 9th and 12th centuries, as well as the diversity of waterways vehicles.

Aside from boat races, many other activities will also take place, including fairs, exhibitions, song and dance performances, fireworks, and floating lanterns.

Organisers estimate the three-day festival, starting from November 21, will attract more than 1 million visitors from across Cambodia and other countries. 

Over 13,000 security personnel have been deployed to ensure security and order during the festival, according to organisers. –VNA