Last weekend was the wedding day of my friend and our volunteers were invited. We left the volunteer house early in the morning and reached there about 7.50am. This was on time for the first procession which in Khmer is called Hai Chum Noon. This means the groom brings many offerings for the bride’s family. We stood in lines carrying the fruits, dessert, vegetable and meats in our hands. With the traditional Khmer musicians at the front, we walked to the bride’s house to give the offerings.
After we finished that first part and had given everything to the bride’s family they sang a song as an offering for the bride’s parents and spirits of the family too. Then we had breakfast with the villagers. This was fried noodles with vegetables, Khmer porridge, fruits and soft drinks. Our volunteers really enjoyed it. The wedding ceremony carried on but some of our volunteers went to explore the village to see the school, pagoda and rice field. The rest of stayed behind to take pictures of the wedding.
Not long after breakfast they offered lunch to everybody. While we were eating we saw another part of the ceremony called Kut Sork. This is the cutting of the hair so that the couple are blessed with health and happiness. Two people gave a performance whilst the bride and groom, bridesmaids and their family and friends watched. Two of our volunteers, Julie and John, joined in to cut the hair and bless them too. They were really excited and enjoyed their experience.
Before the big party started we had a nap and prepared ourselves for the evening. At the party they brought lots more food, beer and soft drinks. We all stayed for the evening and enjoyed the food and dancing. The bride and groom change their dress about ten times per wedding. They also stand at the entrance to welcome their guests and walk around to check that the guests have enough food.
At about 7pm they started cutting the fruit instead of cake. Bride and groom were well prepared for this with their last change of the day being really nice white outfits. All the guests stood in a line with fireworks in their hands waiting for the bride and groom to walk past. Music played and we clapped along. The bride and groom feed each other the fruit. Then there was slow dancing for the couples and some of our volunteers were able to join in.
After the fruit was cut we all enjoyed more dancing until we had to come back to the city. For the whole day we had a really great time and enjoyed the experience of traditional Khmer culture and a warm welcome from the family.
By Soriya Ouk
Images copyright Soriya Ouk and Eleanor Paton