Known for its magnificent historical sites, rich culture, and the people's innate hospitality, Cambodia is a fascinating place to visit. When it comes to its customs and traditions, we can all learn something from their varied past. In particular, the tradition behind the seven colors for official Cambodian ceremonies.
The complex culture of Cambodia reflects its long and diverse history. There are recognizable influences from its neighboring countries, most significantly India. However, religion has primarily served as a source of cultural inspiration. Its people have developed a unique Khmer belief from the mix of indigenous animistic beliefs and the religions of Buddhism and Hinduism.
The Seven Colors for Tradition in Cambodia
One of the most popular traditions practiced in Cambodian culture is the seven colors worn during prominent ceremonies. As early as the 1st century, silk fabric has had a long history on its own. Throughout history, only the Royal family, high-ranking class families, and performers used this textile.
Nowadays, the material is renowned for designing traditional clothes and modern dresses for special events such as weddings, birthrights, and other important ceremonies. Especially during official Cambodian ceremonies, people follow the code of seven colors. Each color is required to be worn on the following day of the week.
Sunday is a red cloth, which symbolizes bravery or courage.
Monday is a yellow cloth, which represents equality.
Tuesday is a purple cloth, which expresses honesty or loyalty.
Wednesday is a light green fabric with red reflections, embodying justice.
Thursday is a green fabric, signifying hope.
Friday is a blue fabric, meaning forgiveness.
Saturday is a brown fabric, signifying sadness.
While most countries have different colors and corresponding days in which they are worn, Cambodians hold to their belief in their lucky colors. Khmer people believed that if they practiced wearing the seven colors in seven days, it would bring them success, happiness, harmony, health, and prosperity.
Recently, a person in charge of the "Lkhaon Khaol Khmer" page (ល្ខោនខោលខ្មែរ) (the ល្ខោនខោល"lkhaon khaol" is a kind of Khmer theater played only by men) on Facebook put online an image representing the colors of the seven traditional sampots (skirt), with the names of the colors in Khmer (note: that these colors do not only apply to the sampots but also to other pieces of clothing).
Here are the names of these colors, from left to right (the leftmost sampot is the one worn on Sundays, followed by the one worn on Mondays, etc.):
Monday: លឿងទុំDark yellow (yellow-orange)
Wednesday: ស៊ីលៀបLight Green (the color of “Nauclea cadumba", a tree sought after because it contains insects used to produce lacquer)
Saturday: ព្រីងទុំDark Purple (the color of a "ripe Java plum")