Cambodia To Celebrate Khmer New Year This Weekend

The Cambodian people will celebrate this weekend, from Apr. 14 to 16, their traditional New Year.

On April 14 at 09:12 am, it marks the end of Buddhist year 2561 BE (Buddhist Era � based on the Lunar Calendar) and the start of New Year 2562, the year of Dog. The New Year's angel of this year is Mohothareak Devy, the youngest daughter of Kabel Moha Prum.

Cambodia's traditional New Year, Chaul Chhnam Thmei generally falls in around mid April or the Chet, the fifth month of the Cambodian lunar calendar during which peasants are relieved of their farm work after the dry-season rice harvest.

Three days before new year's eve, houses and pagodas are decorated with flowers, fresh, plastic or paper, with multiform lamps, candles, colored papers, incense sticks and small paddy or rice mounds (formerly built of sand as a symbol of good harvest) which later will be carried to pagodas as an offering to monks.

On New Year eve, an exorcist rite is held to pray for the happiness and prosperity in the coming year. Everything is well arranged in advance in each family so that people can be free from kitchen work during the festive days.

During the New Year festival which lasts generally for three days, Cambodians especially the aged, go to pagodas, where usually traditional music is played by an orchestra called Pinpeat, to make offerings to monks and pray for the souls of their ancestors.

Young people are the most to enjoy the New Year festival. They dance day and night the Roam Vong (the most popular dance in Cambodia), or join in different games such as Chol Chhoung (knotted scarf throwing � participants group, themselves in two � one male and one female � members of each group, standing in a line take turn to throw the knotted scarf to the other side. Those who fail to catch the scarf have to sing a song), Angkunh (nut-throwing similar to the billiard game but on the ground instead of the table).

Nowadays, several traditional games such as gushing colored water at passer-by as a wish for luck, or bamboo canoe race, etc. are no longer seen in the country excluding few northwestern areas such as Siem Reap, Battambang, but other entertainments such as artistic performances, film shows, circus, etc.

In the country-side, long-handle guitar singers are often invited to sing in praise of legendary or real heroes or heroines, or of revolutionary exploits. People would gather either in pagodas to worship, or in public parks to contemplate the natural beauty.

In urban centres, people, in their Sunday best, stroll around public gardens, and in parks, visit splendid sites and historical monuments or see expositions.

Source: Agency Kampuchea Press