Khmer New Year
New Year is called “Chaul Chnam Thmey or Sus’Dei Chnam Thmei” in Khmer word, and it is a traditional ceremony celebrated after farmers finished their farming season.
The New Year is celebrated for three days nationwide every year in between 12th to 16th April. The date is normally changing depends on depending on leap years.
Besides, the Khmer New Year’s day that is base on the Lunar calendar isn’t regular, because we sometimes celebrate it on the night of the waxing moon (Khneut), or on the night of the waning moon. However, we usually celebrate it around one month.
It means that we don’t do it before 4th Keut of Khe Pisak (name of the Solar day) of Khe Chetr and not after 4th Keut of Khe Pisak (name of the 6th Lunar month) so that some of the Khmer people celebrate their New Year’s day in Khe Chetr.
The reason for New Year celebration is caused to finish the old year and welcome New Year.
The history of the New Year was told that “there have been some people believe that there is a story as following one time there were a person “KABEL MORHAPROHM” who asked three questions to “THORM BAL KOMA, the millionaire’s on, who had known the three percepts of “TRAI VITH” and ail kinds of the animal’s languages.
They all had promised to cut the head of the person who failed the exam “THORM BAL” have no way to find the solution, he felled very hopeless, fortunately, there were two eagles which had spoken about these questions to make “THORM BAL” could find the way to settle the problems.” The result had broken out “KABEL MORHAPROHM” had to cut his head to give to the oldest had to take it go around PRAS SOMERU mountain about 60 minutes after they all bring it to put in the center of KUHA KUNTH MALAY of KAILA mountain.
In the end of the year, the 7 females angles had changed their turn to take the head and go around the mountain every year till the present. This is the reason to cause “SANG KRAN” or changing the old year into the New Year.
During New Year, people in Cambodia are busy to prepare something such as 5 candles, 5 incenses, a pair of 5 Baysey, a pair of Baysey Baklam, a pair of Slathor (a ceremonial ornament made with a banana tree trunk bake), a tray of cigarettes, some flowers and some fruits to sacrifice to the new heaven; clean and decorate their houses before the New Year starts as well as happy to meet all relatives who are away from home to earn money.
Everyone is out on the streets wishing each other and their families’ success, peace, and happiness.
The first day calls Moha Sangkran is the day of appointing the new angel to protect the world, so on that day Cambodian people clean and decorate their houses and themselves to welcome her. Every house offers a table full of fruits, a cake with candles, incense sticks decorated with flowers, and flashing light chains. All of these are to make sure their year begins with good luck and fulfill with happiness.
On this day, they bring some food to offer the monks at the pagodas in the evening, and they gather the sand to build up a sandal mountain around the pagoda or around the Buddha tree in the early evening.
The second calls Wanabat is the day of serving and giving gifts to parents, grandparents, and elderly people. In the evening, people go to the pagoda to listen to the monks chanting and blessing.
The third day calls Tanai Lieang Sak and it means “ new beginning”. In the evening, they bath the monks and statue of Buddha.
People play traditional games such as pouring water, bus Ongkunh- a type of vine grown in Cambodia (mainly in Stung Treng and Kratie province), Chol Chhoung, Leak Kanseng, hand-scarf-throwing game, they kick the nuts game, the tug of war game and trot dancing as well as other traditional dancing at the pagodas or even at home.
Cities, especially the capital Phnom Penh, are very quiet during that time, as most people that live and work in Phnom Penh are not born there. They come from other provinces, such as Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom, Svay Rieng, and others of the 24 provinces that make up the country. Meanwhile, people in Phnom Penh prefer to travel to any tourism sites for their holiday, and the popular sites in-country are Siem Reap, Battambang, Kompong Som, Mondulkiri, and Ratanakiri.