Chol Mlobb- Daughter Educating
Chol Mlobb is a rite of passage and means to enter the shadow (Chol means “enter” and Mlobb refers to “the shadow”). This ceremony is only celebrated for a daughter of the family. There are two main aims of this celebration: to educate morality, virtue, and right behavior and to make the daughter become a beautiful girl.
During this period, she learns many things, such as rules of conduct for women horse wifery, taking care of children, weaving, weaving, recipes and how to behave with other people. She has to wear a long skirt. At night time, she has to wear powder and saffron on her body.
The duration of Chol Mlobb is dependent on how wealthy the family is and the number of members in the family. It usually takes from between three to six months.
In the past, girls were not allowed to go to school because all schools were located in pagodas and most of the teachers were monks, thus the girls were not able to attend. On the other hand, some families did not want their daughters to go to school so that they could keep an eye on their daughters. Many people believed that the home was the best place to educate girls at that time.
It was believed that Chol Mlopp had been extinct since the 1930s. However Chol Mlobb is highlighted in Tomm Teav (a famous Khmer story). Essentially this means that the celebration has continued within Cambodia for many years.
“Nowadays, there are a few places for example, in Sre Ambel district in Koh Kong province and also Pea Romng district in Prey Veng province, that still keep this meaningful event alive, but they shorten the duration to between one and three months, said Mr. Pi Bunnin from the Buddhist Institute.
Any girl can undertake Cho Mlobb, even if she is the first daughter in the family and old enough to get married, even if she lives in the middle class family with enough people to do all housework.
Until now there is a question of when and why the khmer people started this ceremony. It is probably a khmer legend that tells the reason why the khmer people adopted Cho Mlobb for their daughters.
The legend describes a thief who had no wife and no children but he had a very nice house in the jungle, far away from the others, which he used to put away the things that he stole. When he got older he realized that: “I have a lot of property but I have nobody to inherit them. When i die all my property will be wasted, If I had a wife or children to inherit them, I would not be so worried”.
So the thief walked around the village and found a group of children playing under a big mango tree. He then saw a pretty young girl amongst them. He separated her from her from the other children and brought her to his house. He was afraid that she would run back to her parents, so he locked her in a room and gave her food through a very small window. When she was old enough to get married she became sickly and the father invited and old lady from the village to attend to her.
One day, there came a man who had just finished his magic lessons; he met an old lady and asked for her help in finding the perfect girl to marry. Then the lady told of the beauty of the thief’s daughter and advised the young man to walk along the path with watermelons growing along side. This was the old result of woman throwing watermelons seeds to mark her path while she was walking with the thief in order to avoid losing the way.
In the morning, the man went to meet the girl as the lady had told him and the two met and fell in love with each other. She tried to hide her emotions for the young man because she was afraid of her father. However, the father observed his daughter’s behavior and recognized that his daughter had fallen in love. He was very angry with his daughter and so he went away.
The young couple stayed in the house together for a while and did not see the thief come back. Then they left the house and came to thank the old lady who had told the man about the beautiful girl. The old lady told the villagers that this girl was so pretty because she had stayed in the shade and when she attracted a husband.
Since the people have kept their daughters in the shade until they are old enough to marry. During this period, they educate their daughters to know about housewifery and various of Takeo province. The first day of Chol Mlobb begins on the day when the daughter has her first menstrual cycle and plant Cheik Namwar Krormom ( a kind of banana tree with nearly grown flowers) near their house on that day. The parents tell their relatives and light incense and candles to inform all the spirits that their daughter has Cho Mlobb on this day. Special room and some special documents are prepared for the daughter to stay in to read.
After three or six month when it is time to end the Chol Mlobb confinement. A special ceremony is planned. The end to this ceremony is not as simple as the start. Day the fruits ripen, that is the day they choose to celebrate Chol Mlobb ( Chegn means to go out of). The family would invite their relatives to join in the ceremony the preparations of which are as elaborate as they would be for a wedding ceremony.
The following are what they would do for the occasion:
– Pikthi Kat Sleuk: cut leaves used for packaging the dye.
– Pikthi Bok Leakh: Making the dye: Leakh is dye; this ceremony is also celebrated during the collecting of the dye.
– Pikthi Thveu Thmenh Bampenh Leaka: (cover the daughter’s teeth to present an Acha a perfect girl) (Leakanak or Leaka is character). An acha takes a piece of cotton, to absorb a stream of dye from a clean spade that they put into a boiling pot of dye. Then the dye is painted on to cover the daughter’s teeth. The pikthi transforms the daughter into a perfect girl. At that time, the Khmers believed that beautiful girl should have black teeth. This lacquering of the teeth still continues in some rural parts of the region.
– PiKthi Chik Kh’nher: to dig for the Kh’nher’s bulb.
– Kh’nher is a kind of vine. They take a bulb of the Kh’nher and cross it over the daughter’s head to give her good wishes.
– Pikthi Banhchol Khmorch Dormreisar: ( the elephant ghost) a man imitates and plays the role of a big elephant interfering in the ceremony. The Acha gives the elephant some fruits and cake. The elephant then grants good wishes to the daughter for happiness, long life, and good luck and to be a perfect girl.
– Pikthi Sen Pren Chorng Dai: preparing food to dedicate to all the spirits and then the parents will take a red thread to tie around their daughter’s wrist.
– Pikthi Srorch Reuk is another ritual that involves sprinkling of water.
– Pikthi Chhob Leang Pnheav, a reception ( feasting)
This complex system of rituals and practices characterizes the unique celebration of a girl’s entrance into womanhood. It can be seen as an important part of raising a girl. With an increasing emphasis on modern things, perhaps this ancient rite of passage will itself be left in the shade.