Moni Mekhala Dance

Posted by IntoCambodia Team on 12 November 2017
Cambodia is a country which is full of culture and rich in civilization in Southeast Asia. Besides the cultural heritage, ancient temples, and traditional arts, there are intangible cultural heritages everywhere in Cambodia, this country there are also many different traditional intangible cultural heritage of their Khmer ancestors. 
Moni Mekhala Dance

The traditional Khmer dance has been found 40 styles include, for example, Robam troth, Robam, Kagnouk Pailin, Bes Krovanh, Robam Preah Reach Trop as (Khmer royal ballet), Apsara, Tep Monorom, Moni Mekhala, Sovann Machha, etc play an important role in Khmer literature. Therefore, Preah Moni Mekhala Dance which is a very traditional dance and which is very popular for Cambodia people. The Dance is related to the legend of Moni Mekhala (Goddess of Water) and Ream Eyso (The Storm Spirit). The legend tells a long time ago, there lived a Goddess of Water and Ream Eyso who was studying with the same teacher. A wise and powerful hermit who lived deep in the forest, the teacher possessed a magic ball, which he wanted to present to one of his devoted students. However, it was difficult for him to judge which of his star pupils, the goddess Moni Mekhala or the Ream Eyso, both of whom was just completing their studies with him, was more deserving of the ball. 

These two have been engaged in a celestial contest of wills as the Strom Spirit tries to steal a magic crystal ball from the Water Goddess, the source of her enormous power. At first, the Storm Spirit tries to beguile Moni Mekhala with flattery and charm. The Water Goddess will not have any of it. Wise to the ways of the Storm Spirit, she rejects his advances and makes a mockery of his efforts. This enrages the Storm Spirit and the battle is joined. As he advances toward the goddess, Eysor brandishes his magic ax. With precision and grace. the goddess counters him by displaying her crystal ball, by blinding the Storm Spirit, and by staggering him. Frustrated by one repulse after another, the Storm Spirit is forced to concede defeat and withdraw, muttering that he will seek his revenge another time. 

According to the popular Cambodian legend, the thunderstorm is all that we mortals are allowed to see of this recurrent battle in the heaven, with lightning representing Moni Mekhala's crystal ball and thunder representing the Storm Spirit's magic ax clattering across the heaven as it slips from his nervous fingers. The dance is also said to symbolize the victory of virtue over seduction. The Moni Mekhala dram represents Cambodian storytelling at its best. 

Khmer classical Dance or Khmer Royal Ballets in listed of Intangible culture heritage by UNESCO on 7th November 2003. Cambodians scholars, such as Pech Tum Kravel, and French archeologist George Groslier have mentioned that Khmer classical dance is part an unbroken tradition dating to the Angkor period. 

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Reference
- Vansok, C (2011, March-April). Moni Mekhala Dance. Cambodia Tourism Magazine, Issue 07, Volume 02, 36-38
- MCFA & UNESCO (2004). Inventory of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Cambodia: A joint publication of the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts and UNESCO. Cambodia: JSRC Printing House.