Have you ever heard about “Chol Mlob”? Chol Mlob in Khmer language is “ចូលម្លប់” a traditional practice celebrating for Khmer young girls becoming adults. It was once a very strict norm in Cambodian culture. As you read, you would get to know what Chol Mlob is and how we actually celebrate it.

In fact, Chol Mlob is a rite of passage passed down from generation to generation. The practice started during the Angkor era and remained popular throughout the King Norodom reign. However, the ceremony is no longer popular nowadays and has also evolved to suit modern day lifestyles. Chol Mlob would be held when girls have become teenagers. In the past, it was strictly carried out over three to six months depending on the families and their financial capability. Now, the practice and celebration of Chol Mlob can be much shorter. 

There are several ceremonies to start and involve monks, clergymen and relatives of the family. The monks and clergymen would preach and give blessings to the girl who should never be fearful in her future life. Later, girls would be isolated in a room with only mothers and other female companions and avoid any men’s company at all costs. Inside the room, girls would be taught essential roles as a woman and learn the traditions, Khmer norms and culture. 

In the past, most families were able to practice “Chol Mlob”, but it is quite costly and time consuming for today’s society. Thus, only a few selected families can preserve this traditional Chol Mlob. Again, the practice and celebration are slightly different from one place to another.

By Sreyleak Penh