Angkor Wat

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Angkor Wat in Cambodia
the world's largest religious monument built in the 12th century
now a world heritage site
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Kon-saeng Slar Dorck

Story of
Cloth-wrapped Betel Nut

 

Once upon a time, there were two men who became very good friends. They would not think twice about doing things for each other and they cared very much for each others’ wellbeing. One man had a son and the other had a daughter – both children were roughly the same age. 

Although both men agreed that nothing could come between them due to their great rapport, the man with the son wanted to re-enforce the relationship by trying to take it to another level. One day, the two men took their cows and buffalos out to feed together.  At lunch break, they sat and shared a meal whilst making light conversation about their families and work. After a pleasant meal, the man with a son suddenly cleared his throat and started to say: 

Samlanh (my dear friend), we have been very good friends for many years; and our families get on very well with each other. It would make me so happy if we could join our families into one’, he stopped and looked at his friend’s face waiting for his reaction. 

Slightly surprised, the man with a daughter understood very well the intention of his friend. He too had had a similar idea and would have no problem reciprocating to his friend’s feeling. However, being the father of a girl, it was customary that he should wait for the boy’s father to formalise the request. As he could detect a slight nervousness in his friend’s voice, in order to ease the situation, he smiled and gently asked: 

‘Samlanh, both of our families are so close, and I am happy about our relationship.’ He then shifted himself to be a bit closer to his friend and whilst putting his hand on his friend’s shoulder, he warmly asked him: ‘However, I am interested to hear your thoughts’.    

The man with a son, cleared his throat again and began by saying; ‘Samlanh, I hope you would find it in your heart to forgive me if what I am about to say would offend you in any way ……well …I would like us, our two families, to become relatives – very close relatives, by asking your daughter’s hand for my son in marriage.’ 

Totally delighted with the request, the man with a daughter smiled broadly and gave his friend a big hug and assured him: ‘Samlanh, the feeling is mutual. I can’t tell you how happy I am to accept your request. I agree to give my daughter’s hand to your son in marriage.’ 

The man with a son could not hide his joy. But, as happy as he was, he wanted to do something to seal the agreement – something as a token or action to remember the agreement between the two of them. With slight hesitation, he picked up one corner of his ‘Kon-saeng’ (a traditional Khmer scarf which a man normally ties around his head) and showed it to the man with a daughter and revealed ‘slar malou’ or ‘betel nut balls' which was wrapped inside the corner of the scarf.  He then proceeded to explain:

Samlanh, as we are in the middle of the forest, I have nothing else but this to offer to you. Please accept this as a token of my thanks and as a symbol of our agreement.’ Both shared the ‘slar malou’  which is now called ‘Kon-saeng Slar Dorck’ or ‘Cloth-wrapped areca nut and betel leaf’. This acts as a symbol of sealing the promises to each other.’ 

Thanks to the great friendship and love that the two families had for each other, the marriage between the daughter and the son took place soon after. The young couple lived happily together with the blessings of parents on both sides. Thanks to that, the See Slar Pchorp Peak or ‘Eating areca nut and betel leaf to seal the promise’ has become one of the rituals in Khmer traditional wedding ceremonies. 

Please note that the terms ‘Kon-saeng Slar Dorck’ and ‘See Slar Pchorp Peak refer to the same ritual and are used interchangeably. 

Note: Why  is ‘slar malou’  very important in Khmer culture?  Please read the ‘Story of the Areca Nut Tree and Betel Vine’ on the  'Folk Tales' page.