*** Today is a special day. I have my very first guest blog post! Enjoy!***
Ahhh… ‘Wedding Season’ in Cambodia.
What could be more delightful than waking up – before sunrise – to a loud, pulsing beat that rattles the walls through screeching speakers blaring some song that may sound lovely when sung to a small audience in an acoustically-inclined room but over loudspeakers sounds more like someone angrily shouting at their grandmother in a sing-song kind of way? How about if it goes on for THREE DAYS?
Weddings are a joyous celebration of two people uniting their lives; families and friends gather to rejoice in their love. But here in Cambodia, weddings have taken on a whole new set of descriptive words for me. From what I have experienced in Battambang, weddings can also be, well, incredibly disruptive to my beauty sleep.
Like all weddings, Khmer weddings are elaborate. A large tent is erected in the middle of the street and covered with pink tapestries and colorful ornate decorations. The plethora of tables under the tent are rarely full, but available to sit at for the entire extent of the days-long celebration. Chairs are covered with pink silken fabric and guests wear white shirts and blouses with dark pants and sarongs. Someone told me that the bride changes dresses at least four times. The (rented) dresses reflect various colors of the rainbow and always have lots of glittering accessories. (American wedding planners are clearly missing something. When will we let go of boring Puritan white dresses and live it up a little? Note to friends and family: I fully intend to have a vibrantly colorful wedding with lots of sparkly things.) I’m also told that most weddings are two days; for more affluent Khmer, weddings will last up to four days.
In this very hot and dusty rural town in NW Cambodia, to say that a bright pink tent with lots of ornaments stands out would be an understatement. If there is a wedding happening, you will hear it and then see it coming well before you are upon it.
From before dawn ’till after the sun has set, sounds and music are carried from under the tent to the surrounding six blocks of neighborhood. Though I don’t speak Khmer, I can assume that over the loudspeakers nice things are being said about the couple, blessings are given from family members, toasts are made, and DJs insert shrewd remarks to get the crowd moving again. The music that is played is indescribable. Due to volume and speaker quality, I think I may be completely missing out on several lovely renditions of Khmer wedding songs. Because what I hear when I wake up sounds a lot like an Islamic call to prayer mixed with K-Pop. If you don’t know what either sound like, please, please Google them… and then close your eyes and imagine them mixed together and blasting into your window over crappy loudspeakers.
While I feel privileged to be included in the happy couple’s celebrations while lying in bed at 6am in my guesthouse room down the road, I am increasingly grateful for my ear buds, my eye mask, and Dr. Henry Henshaw’s CD ‘Music for Sleep, Stress, and Anxiety Relief.’
Happy Wedding Season to all!
~Darcy Miller, guest blogger for dear friend Miss Sonja Chacon. Darcy is currently working in Battambang, Cambodia for Children’s Future Intl.’ — a US-based nonprofit serving the well-being and education needs of impoverished children at high risk of trafficking.