By Vuthyro Chuon
“Dar Lean” festival is related to religious belief which Khmer ancestors have consistently practiced until now. It has been called by different names, but regardless of what it is identified, the purposes are to commemorate the guardian spirit of land and water who inherited the fruitful resources for the later generation, to apologize for any faults happening during the harvest seasons such as producing waste or stepping on the land field since the land is the source to produce the crop, to memorialize the ancestors who tried to initiate the ideas for agriculture, and to worship the rain which is one of the main sources to support agriculture.
Every year, Cambodian farmers in all villages and districts across the country gather after the rice harvest is completed. The elder in the village always consults with each other to find a suitable time to celebrate Dar Lean. The festival is set according to the assumption in each village and area after all the rice harvest has been completed, but in some districts, it is done when the rice comes out to celebrate the rice that bears fruit. The program of Dar Lean ceremony is not complicated, but exciting because of Pin Peat orchestra and the villagers agree to meet in large numbers. In the morning, the villagers gather to prepare various offerings to pay homage to Preah Rattanatray Preah Phum. At the same time, they took their respective food to offer to the monks and to eat together to strengthen the bonds of solidarity.
Next, the monks come to bless the village and villagers. In addition, villagers also worship the guardian spirit and other sacredness to get blessed for the next harvest season without insects, rats, or birds eating rice at all. Even though the ceremony is over, life after working for a season under the heat or the rain made them very tired. Therefore, it is a good time for them to take some rest. They can gather at the ceremony place for dancing and having some parties, or they can gather in a villager’s house which has a big space. It is also the time that farmers can meet relatives and close friends to exchange ideas and solidarity.