TA KHMAO, Cambodia - Cambodia's royal oxen munched on beans, sesame, corn, and rice at an ancient ritual on Saturday, leading astrologers to predict a "quite good" agricultural harvest this year.
Hundreds of people watched to see what the cows ate to signal the coming year's harvests at the Royal Ploughing ceremony, presided over by King Norodom Sihamoni in a football field outside Phnom Penh.
After a symbolic ploughing of a portion of the field, a pair of royal cows were led to seven dishes - rice, corn, beans, sesame, grass, water and alcohol - laid out on trays.
The rice, corn, beans and sesame represent the harvest. The more the oxen eat the better.
If they eat grass, it means illness, and if they drink water, it means floods, while sipping alcohol portends war.
"As the royal cows ate beans, sesame, corn, and rice, the harvest will be quite good," chief astrologer Kang Ken declared, to the relief of superstitious onlookers.
"Our agricultural harvest will be good. And our country will be peaceful," Sam Sokhom, 59, told AFP after the ceremony, which marks the start of the planting season in the kingdom.