If you are living or traveling through Cambodia you probably already noticed that this week things are a little bit different due to Khmer New Year. Majority of shops and businesses are closed due to celebrations. A lot of local people travel to their provinces and a general festive mood prevails with everyone preparing to party. Yes, that’s true, the Khmer New Year is coming so, as in Khmer they say, sousday chnam thmei!
2. Khmer new year
The Buddhist calendar follows the moon instead of the sun like the Western calendar. Hence the new year’s eve falls normally on 13 or 14 of april. Generally speaking it is the end of the harvesting season as the farmers have a bit more money to spend on celebrations. As of 2017, Cambodia enters the year 2561 which is also considered the year of the rooster. Three days of celebrations includes –
- Eat good food
- Happy and smiling faces
And let the feast begin.
3. First day of the celebration
On the first day people usually clean their homes and light candles and incense. It is believed that doing this invites angels in their homes. Second day focusses no doing charity for the poor as well as exchanging gifts between the family members. The last day is about cleaning Buddha statues with water using flowers to decorate them. The children usually wash the feet of their parents as a sign of respect.
4. Holy water
Cambodian people believe that the water used to clean the statues becomes holy. This can be compared with Thai Songkran or Burmese Thingyan which is used to sprinkle water on other people as a blessing. To be specific, on the face in the morning, chest at noon and feet in the evening. Although its the traditional thing to do but it is not so popular as the Thai or Burmese water fight festivals.
Besides all this, during these days Cambodian people dress nicely and visit pagodas or shrines to pay homage to their ancestors. Other tradition is kralan, a cake made of rice, beans and coconut, roasted inside bamboo sticks and enjoyed as a snack.
So, after giving you some context about this holiday, we wish you a happy new year and hope you enjoy traveling or even the quietness of Phnom Penh during these days (most of the Khmer people go back to their hometowns to celebrate with their families so expect no traffic in town!) If you are staying in town you can walk around the area near Wat Phnom for attending some traditional games, and if you decided to travel have a look on Camboticket website for some last minute deals, so many provinces in this country to explore in these holidays!
Sousday chnam thmei 🙂