“Hit me again with that song of love”
The most versatile of traditional Cambodian garments, the krama, (a multi-coloured rectangular piece of woven cotton ) is employed this time to create the game of Cha-ol Chhoung.
A krama is rolled into a coconut sized ball , with one length left free. This is to allow the players to take the ball and swing it around and then release it high into the air towards the opposition’s half.
There are two teams-boys versus the girls. The game begins with one of the boys throwing the ball into the air. The girls must catch the ball before it touches the ground. On catching it, she must throw it straight back at the boys- with the aim of hitting one of them. If a boy is hit, he must go into the girls’ camp and sing a song.
At half-time,, the teams are reversed with the boys doing the catching and the girls doing the throwing and singing.
A game of Cha-ol Chhoung always draws a large audience keen to hear the humourously improvised songs. teasing each other over who it was they intended to hit with the ball and woo with their lyrical talents.
An old song of Cha-ol Chhoung
I throw the Chhoung and I aim at my lover, Be very careful, my dear that my Chhoung doesn’t touch the ground.
Throw it to me. and don’t worry. If the Chhoung touches the ground, I will sing for you.
Here is the Chhoung, Be careful Or you will sing even twice. If you catch the Chhoung, wait for a while. To throw it back, wait for our union consummated.
I look to the South and I see banana trees in flower. Escorted with thirty of his friends, he comes to ask for the young girl’s hand. The father says no, but the mother says yes.
She gives him her daughter, wanting to eat pig heads. (wedding offerings).
I look to the South and I see distinctly some coconut trees. Would you please tell the beautiful girl Im not to take a husband.