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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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Aadhaar Helpline Mystery: French Security Expert Tweets of doing a Full Disclosure Tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App

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Google comes up with a new feature

Google’s admission that it had in 2014 inadvertently coded the 112 distress number and the UIDAI helpline number into its setup wizard for Android devices triggered another controversy on Saturday as India’s telecom regulator had only recommended the use of 112 as an emergency number in April 2015.

After a large section of smartphone users in India saw a toll-free helpline number of UIDAI saved in their phone-books by default, Google issued a statement, saying its “internal review revealed that in 2014, the then UIDAI helpline number and the 112 distress helpline number were inadvertently coded into the SetUp wizard of the Android release given to OEMs for use in India and has remained there since”.

Aadhaar Helpline Number Mystery: French security expert tweets of doing a full disclosure tomorrow about Code of the Google SetUP Wizard App, Image: Wikimedia Commons.

However, the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) recommended only in April 2015 that the number 112 be adopted as the single emergency number for the country.

According to Google, “since the numbers get listed on a user’s contact list, these get  transferred accordingly to the contacts on any new device”.

Google was yet to comment on the new development.

Meanwhile, French security expert that goes by the name of Elliot Alderson and has been at the core of the entire Aadhaar controversy, tweeted on Saturday: “I just found something interesting. I will probably do full disclosure tomorrow”.

“I’m digging into the code of the @Google SetupWizard app and I found that”.

“As far as I can see this object is not used in the current code, so there is no implications. This is just a poor coding practice in term of security,” he further tweeted.

On Friday, both the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) as well as the telecom operators washed their hand of the issue.

While the telecom industry denied any role in the strange incident, the UIDAI said that he strange incident, the UIDAI said that some vested interests were trying to create “unwarranted confusion” in the public and clarified that it had not asked any manufacturer or telecom service provider to provide any such facility.

Twitter was abuzz with the new development after a huge uproar due to Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) Chairman R.S. Sharma’s open Aadhaar challenge to critics and hackers.

Ethical hackers exposed at least 14 personal details of the TRAI Chairman, including mobile numbers, home address, date of birth, PAN number and voter ID among others. (IANS)

Also Read: Why India Is Still Nowhere Near Securing Its Citizens’ Data?