27 May 2005

No drought, say the astrologers

Yesterday was the annual Royal Plowing Ceremony here in Phnom Penh. Part of this ceremony involves offering the royal oxen several bowls filled with different items. The royal astrologers then predict the harvest based on the oxen's selections.

This year, they ate nearly all of the rice, beans, and corn, but avoided the grass, sesame, and water. This was interpreted to mean that the harvest of the former would be good.

The big controversy was over the water. The astrologers said it meant that it meant plenty of rain; if the oxen had drunk the water, it would have meant flooding.

Problem is, this is not how it's been interpreted in times past. And last year, the oxen also refused to drink, and a drought has followed.

The astrologers stopped short of saying that a corner had been turned on the drought, but you just know they were thinking it.