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Bon Om Touk: The Cambodian Water Festival Celebrates Reversal of the River

Around 260 boats participated in the boat race


November 21, 2016: Cambodian water festival, also known as, Bon Om Touk, is an annual 3 days Cambodian festival. The festival marks the reversal of flow of River Tonle Sap. Every city celebrates the festival but the biggest celebration takes place in Phnom Penh region. It includes boat racing and concerts. It attracts nearly 2 million people from around the globe each year. The festival is celebrated to commemorate the end of the rainy season.

The Tonle Sap is the main source of income for many fishermen and farmers as it is rich in fish stocks and the land near the lake, due to the slit deposits left by the floods, is fertile. The festival is a way to give thanks to river.

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The Tonle Sap empties into the Mekong River for most of the year. But when rainy season arrives, the River Mekong rises and reverses the flow back into the lake, making it ten times its original size. At the end of rainy season, the flow is reversed once more, emptying the excess waters of the lake into the Mekong.

This natural occurrence is celebrated with 3 days festivities including boat races, parades and fireworks.

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A story holds that Bon Om Touk was a way for the Kings to prepare their navy for battles. At Bayon, situated near Banteay Chhmar and Siem Reap, naval battles have been carved into stones which are similar to the boats that race on Tonle Sap.

The festival dates back to the beginning of the 12th century when Angkorian King Jayavarman VII started it to kick off the country’s fishing season. The festivities were meant to please the divinities of the river. They believed it ensured a plentiful harvest of fish and rice for the following year.

Months before the festival, the locals start to prepare by decorating their boats. Thousands of people watch the race and cheer. Massive display of fireworks light up the sky. Unlike the other boat races, Cambodian boat crew faces forward.

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The festival had its ups and downs in the past years. In 2010, nearly 350 died due to an overcrowded bridge. While in 2011 and 2013, boat races were cancelled due to the floods and in 2012 races were cancelled because of the death of King Norodom Sihanouk. The water level was too low last year.

This year, however, there has been a big turnout. Locals and masses have showed up in great number. There were about 259 boats participating in the race including 63 international standard boats, 170 paddle boats and 76 special racing boats.

Prepared by Diksha Arya of NewsGram. Twitter: @diksha_arya53

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FIFA World Cup 2018: Indian Cuisine becomes the most sought after in Moscow

Indian cuisine in FIFA World cup
Indian dishes available in Moscow during FIFA World Cup 2018, representational image, wikimedia commons

June 17, 2018:

Restaurateurs Prodyut and Sumana Mukherjee have not only brought Indian cuisine to the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018 here but also plan to dish out free dinner to countrymen if Argentina wins the trophy on July 15.

Based in Moscow for the last 27 years, Prodyut and Sumana run two Indian eateries, “Talk Of The Town” and “Fusion Plaza”.

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Both restaurants serve popular Indian dishes like butter chicken, kebabs and a varied vegetarian spread.

During the ongoing FIFA World Cup 2018, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

The Mukherjees, hailing from Kolkata, are die-hard fans of Argentina. Despite Albiceleste drawing 1-1 with Iceland in their group opener with Lionel Messi failing to sparkle, they believe Jorge Sampaoli’s team can go the distance.

“I am an Argentina fan. I have booked tickets for a quarterfinal match, a semifinal and of course the final. If Argentina goes on to lift

During the World Cup, there will be 25 per cent discount for those who will possess a Fan ID (required to watch World Cup games).

There will also be gifts and contests on offers during matches in both the restaurants to celebrate the event.

FIFA World Cup 2018 Russia
FIFA World Cup 2018, Wikimedia Commons.

“We have been waiting for this World Cup. Indians come in large numbers during the World Cup and we wanted these eateries to be a melting point,” he added.

According to Cutting Edge Events, FIFA’s official sales agency in India for the 2018 World Cup, India is amongst the top 10 countries in terms of number of match tickets bought.

Read more about Indian cuisine abroad: Hindoostane Coffee House: London’s First Indian Restaurant.

Prodyut came to Moscow to study engineering and later started working for a pharmaceutical company here before trying his hand in business. Besides running the two restaurants with the help of his wife, he was into the distribution of pharmaceutical products.

“After Russia won the first match of the World Cup, the footfall has gone up considerably. The Indians are also flooding in after the 6-9 p.m. game. That is the time both my restaurants remain full,” Prodyut said.

There are also plans to rope in registered fan clubs of Latin American countries, who will throng the restaurants during matches and then follow it up with after-game parties till the wee hours.

“I did get in touch with some of the fan clubs I had prior idea about. They agreed to come over and celebrate the games at our joints. Those will be gala nights when both eateries will remain open all night for them to enjoy,” Prodyut said.

Watching the World Cup is a dream come true for the couple, Sumana said.

“We want to make the Indians who have come here to witness the spectacle and feel at home too. We always extend a helping hand and since we are from West Bengal, we make special dishes for those who come from Bengal,” she added. (IANS)