The tradition “Hold of Sbai” was first performed in 50 A.D, day of wedding between King Preah Thong and Queen Preah Neang Neak. In that wedding, King Preah Thong represented human kind, Queen Preah Neang Neak respresented the water world of the Naga, as she was the daughter of the Naga King. Preah Neang Neak’s Sbai is in fact the representation on earth of her Naga tail. On their honeymoon evening, Preah Thong had to hold his wife’s tail in order to cross the waters to join his father-in-law’s palace, under the sea. This is why, from that very moment on, all Cambodian weddings finish with this sight: an old lady of the family, happily married, leads by the hand the bride, with the groom holding the “sbai” of his wife.
Here is the photo of that very moment, taken at the wedding of my parents, Prince Sisowath Samyl Monipong and Princess Norodom Daravadey in Vithei Makhavan 29bis (street 178) in Phnom Penh on 9th January 1967. It was Princess Norodom Racvila, her aunt, who was holding my mother’s hand
Here is my mother, Princess Norodom Daravadey, wearing the “Kroeung Noy” or “little attire” for the Haircut ceremony. Phnom Penh, 9th January 1967