How Cambodian People Celebrate Their New Year
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How Cambodian People Celebrate Their New Year

When the New Year's Day comes, they 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. When every is ready, they sit together near that place and light the candles to pray for happiness from the new heaven and start to pray before breaking each other. On the other hand, we have different celebrations during these 3 days of New Year's Day.

In this 2011, Cambodian people will celebrate their New Year on April 14, 15 and 16. Please read through the articles and then you will know how they celebrate their New Year.

If you are interested in the culture and the traditional aspects of the country of Cambodia, you must visit the country during one of the festivals and events in Cambodia . The Kingdom of Cambodia is one of the most beautiful travel destinations in the southeastern region of Asian. The richness of its cultural and traditional background attracts thousands of people from various corners of the world every year. Not only the tourist attractions, but also the festivals of the country are considered as the heritages of Cambodia. Numerous festivals are celebrated throughout the year in every part of the country. However, the Cambodian New Year in Cambodia is one of the most popular festivals in Cambodia. Try to visit Cambodia during the middle of April to enjoy the flavor of the Cambodian New Year at Cambodia.

The people of Cambodia use the Indian Calendar to calculate the start of the New Year festival. The festival falls on the 12, 13 or 14 April or a bit different days each year according to the Gregorian calendar and lasts for three days.

A few days before the Khmer New Year's day, they prepared some food, clean their house, bought some news and so on. When the New Year's Day comes, they 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. When every is ready, they sit together near that place and light the candles to pray for happiness from the new heaven and start to pray before breaking each other. On the other hand, we have different celebrations during these 3 days of New Year's Day.

Cambodian New Year’s Eve is the day before whichever date it is and it lasts three days. It is called Chaul Chnam Thmey which means entering the New Year.

People clean and decorate their houses, as well as set up an altar to welcome Tevada Chhnam Thmey(the New Year Angels) who is said to come down to earth at this time. A statue of the Buddha is put on the altar, also flowers, candles, incense, a bowl of scented water, food and drink, and banana leaves shaped into different figures as it’s described above.

- Firs day of New Year is called Maha Songkran, means which means a big step of changing. It is the ending of the year and the beginning of a new one. People dress up and light candles and burn incense sticks at shrines, where the members of each family pay homage to offer thanks for the Buddha's teachings by bowing, kneeling and prostrating themselves three times before his image. For good luck people wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon, and their feet in the evening before they go to bed. A special sand mound is built in the grounds of the monasteries on this day. The special sand mountain is built to dedicate to the Buddha’s shrine called Chulamuni chetiya, in the Tavatimsa Heaven. The mound is decorated with five religious flags, one on top of the mound and four around the sides.

- The Second day is called Virak Wanabat. People contribute charity to the less fortunate by helping the poor, servants, homeless, and low-income families. Families attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at the monastery.

- The Third Day is called Thngai Loeung Sak is the name of the third day of the new year celebration. Buddhists cleanse the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. Bathing the Buddha images is the symbol that water will be needed for all kinds of plants and lives. It is also thought to be a kind deed that will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life. By bathing their grandparents and parents, children can obtain from them best wishes and good advice for the future.

During these three days, at the evening people go to the Buddhist temple to listen the monks chanting paritta (protection) and listen the Dhamma talks. At night they gather in the temple for their entertain in the various Khmer cultural games and dance. In the morning, they bring food and other requisites to offer the monks in the temple to wish for their happiness and dedicate their merits to their relatives who passed away.

People douse each other with water as a blessing. Water can be colored red, pink, or yellow to symbolize a colorful future. New Clothing is worn. Children give money to their parents, aunts, uncles as a sign of gratitude and respect. They may also give food or fruit in addition.

Khmer Cultural Popular games

Special games such as the Tug-Of-War, Angkunh, Chab Kon Khleng, Leak Kanseng and Boh Choong are played at the monasteries on each day of the festival.

Tug of War

This game is played by two teams, one team is made up of girls and the other team is made up of boys. The rope consists of several separate strands, plaited together like a snake. The game is then just a matter of one team on one end of the rope the other team on the other side must pull the rope.

Angkunh

This is a fruit rather like a tamarind, the seed of the fruit is used for this game. Two teams line up opposite each other. On the ground in front of each team is a row of about half a dozen of these seeds. Each player also holds one in their hand. They throw the seeds in their hands at the ones in front of them if anyone misses they have lost the game. The other team then has a go. When the game is finished, the winners get to hit the losers on their knees with bamboo sticks or with the seeds themselves.

Chab Kon Khleng

A game played by imitating a hen as she protects her chicks from a crow. Adults typically play this game on the night of the first New Year's Day. Participants usually appoint a strong player to play the hen who protects "her" chicks, while another person is picked to be the "crow". While both sides sing a song of bargaining, the crow tries to catch as many chicks as possible as they hide behind the hen.

Leak Kanseng

A game played by a group of children sitting in a circle. Someone holding a "kanseng" (Cambodian towel) that is twisted into a round shape walks around the circle while singing a song. The person walking secretly tries to place the "kanseng" behind one of the children. If that chosen child realizes what is happening, he or she must pick up the "kanseng" and beat the person sitting next to him or her.

Boh Choong

This is a game played by boys and girls and is a kind of courting ritual. The boys and girls line up facing each other. A member of one team throws a cloth ball over to the other side. Whoever manages to catch the ball then must chase the person and try to hit them with it.

This game is done by the next person and then the next until there are no people left.

As it is the special holiday, besides celebrating the religious ritual, cultural games, dance, people also go with their family and friends to visit the resort and historical place.

May the New Year brings all beings in the universe peace and happiness! May they be freed from suffering!

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