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Moni Mekhala & her Crystal Ball

Roeung Neang Moni Mekhala

Story of Thunder and Lightning

Cambodia is an agricultural country where the majority of the population, around 71%, are reported to be solely dependent on agriculture (largely rice cultivation) for their livelihood. Farming relies mainly on rainfall and water from natural resources. Whenever the country faces the hardship of drought, the farmers generally get together and hold a ceremony called ‘Bon Som Tik Pliang’ or ‘Praying for Rainfal’. Some believe that they pray to Moni Mekhala, the Goddess of Rain, who features in the following legend.

Once upon a time, a wizard had three students – Princess Moni Mekhala, Prince Vorakchhun and Giant Prince Ream Eyso. The two princes specialised in martial arts whereas the Princess specialised in the magic of making rain. As they were about to finish their studies with him, the wizard wanted to test them before they went home. He summoned all of them and said: “I am satisfied with your ability to learn the most powerful skills I taught you. Therefore, I have a special present which I would like to give to you. However, as my magical ability is limited to creating just one extra powerful present, I’m afraid you will have to compete for it. It will be a simple test. Tomorrow, you should go out to collect a cup of dew water for me. The first one who brings me a full cup of dew water will be given the magic present.” He then handed each of them a cup.

Next morning, all three went out at the same time but chose to go to different locations. The Prince and the Giant Prince thought to themselves: ‘This is easy. I’ll get a cup full of dew water in no time!” Both Princes used the same technique - they placed the cup under every single leaf of every tree, and flicked the drop of dew water down into their cup. Obviously, this was very slow.

Meanwhile, Moni Mekhala, who was more intelligent than the two Princes, used her clean scarf to wipe all the leaves and grass in order to absorb the dew water. She then carefully wrung the water into her cup. In this way, she managed to fill the cup much quicker than the two Princes. As a result, she was the first to give a cup filled with dew water to the wizard.

The wizard then proceeded to turn Moni Mekhala's cup of dew water into a magical crystal ball. He handed it to her saying: “This glittering ball is very powerful. Just make a wish whilst swiftly waving the ball and your wish will come true immediately.” After a brief pause, and knowing how the Giant Prince would react to losing, the wizard added: “don’t forget, you can use the ball to help you fly.” Moni Mekhala bowed down in front of the wizard in gratitude and thanked him for everything, bid him goodbye and left to journey back to her country.

When the Prince and the Giant Prince arrived back to the wizard with their cups full of dew water, they found out that the Princess had beaten them. Though deeply disappointed, the Prince admitted defeat gracefully. However, the Giant Prince was so angry that he cried uncontrollably. In order to console him, the wizard decided to give him a magic axe; and to be fair, although the Prince did not complain, the wizard gave him a magic sword. Before they said goodbye to him, the wizard advised them to take care of each other.

However, the Giant Prince, who was greedy, wanted the Prince’s magic sword as well. After bidding farewell to the wizard, they both left for home following separate paths. But the Giant Prince plotted to steal the magic sword, and secretly followed the Prince. When they were far away from the wizard, the Giant Prince attacked the Prince. As they had similar skills, they fought for a very long time. Eventually, the Prince, remembering the wizard’s parting advice, attempted to stop fighting and stepped back. This gave the Giant Prince an opportunity so he killed him and took his magic sword.

His greed didn’t end there. The Giant Prince wanted Moni Mekhala's magic crystal ball as well. He knew that he could easily find Moni Mekhala – “where there is rainfall, there she will be …” he said to himself. So he travelled onwards. As soon as the sky became low and filled with grey clouds, he looked out for her. As soon as he saw her, he attacked and tried to kill her with his magic axe. The Princess spotted him in time and swiftly waved her crystal ball to fly up high in the sky. Having failed to kill her on the ground, the Giant Prince threw the magic axe towards the Princess repeatedly hoping to kill her. Most of the time, he missed, but occasionally, his axe would strike the Princess’ magic ball which protected her.

This is why, during rain storms, you will notice that lightning (the waving of the magic ball) is always seen in the sky before you hear the sound of thunder (the sound of the magic axe falling down after missing Moni Mekhala). Occasionally, you will hear the deafening sound of a thunderbolt. This is said to be the clash of the two powerful magic items – the axe and the crystal ball. This phenomenon continues even today because Moni Mekhala, who had re-incarnated into the Goddess of Rain, is still being chased by the spirit of the Giant Prince, who has not given up his quest to steal her magic crystal ball.

The End