Traditional Khmer Wedding Songs
Khmer weddings are the symbol of a beautiful Cambodian legend about the marriage of the first Khmer prince, Preah Thong, to Princess Neang Neak. The prince was exiled from his land. During his traveling, he fell in love with the princess. As a gift for the newlyweds, the father of the princess formed the land of Cambodia, by swallowing a part of the ocean. Very nice legend!
For Khmer people, wedding is one of the most joyous occasions that typically last three days and nights. It is a colorful festivity with historical traditions. Number 3 symbolizes the three jewels of Buddhism: the Buddha, the Sangha (monks) and the Dhamma or Buddha’s teachings.
A Khmer wedding is also a union between the families of the two spouses. The man interested in a woman, must first inform his parents. Once the parents from both sides agreed, follows the presentation of dowry. This is the moment when the family members and friends are introduced and the couple exchanges wedding rings.
The music that accompanies Khmer wedding is called Plengkar. The traditional wedding songs express the feelings and characteristics of the Khmer community. Each song is designed to a specific wedding rite. The moment of the dowry is accompanied by three traditional songs:
Neay Pream He Kaun Kamlas or Arrival of the Groom is a song about the story of the groom and his family’s arrival to the bride’s house bearing the dowry and other items. Chambak Rouy or Presenting the Dowry is more like a dialogue between the matchmakers, parents and relatives of the couple in which the groom’s family officially presents the bride’s dowry.
Pak Paeuk Pisa Sla or Inviting the Elders to Chew Betel Nut: This is the presentation of the betel nut to the young couple elders. Parents of both the bride and groom pray for blessings and well-wishes for the couple.
During the celebration, the bride may change her outfit even 10 times in one day. She is the one to declare the color of her dress each day and the wedding guests must dress only in that color. During the wedding ceremony, you may stand up and leave the room if you need to take some air. This is not considered rude. Another specific tradition is the one of fortune-telling. Fortune-tellers play an important role in Khmer weddings as couples set the date according to her sayings. Would you do that?
During the lighting of the candles ceremony are sung four traditional songs:
Phat Cheay: it’s a song that invites the bride and her bridesmaids to the pairing ceremony.
Kang Saeuy: a song accompanying the offering of gifts to the ancestor spirits and asking for their blessing.
Bangvel Po Pil: a song symbolizing the seven rotations made by the bride and groom around the sacred flame. The smoke of the flame is sacred and will protect the new couple. Bay Khon Chang Day is played while the wrists of the couple are tied with the blessing strings. The lyrics are full of good wishes and blessings for the new family.
I hope you made an idea about the meaning of a Khmer marriage.11