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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Suosdei Chhnam Thmey - 2553!


That is how we say Happy New Year and Khmer Iggy would like to say Happy New Year to her Khmer friends and to the Buddhist world.

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Here Iggy poses in front of our landlord's offering to the new batch of angels. We didn't prepare any fruit offerings during the international and Chinese new years so this time, we did, thanks to our landlady:

kny and iggy3

kny and iggy4The year here now is 2553 BE (Buddhist Era) -- that is, 2,553 years since Buddha achieved enlightenment and entered the state of nirvana. In Cambodia and other Buddhist countries, the new year is based on astrological calculations. This year the new year started Tuesday, April 14, at 1:36pm and runs until Thursday, April 16. The Cambodians call the first day of the new year maha songkran, and families dressed in their best clothes flock to wats and pay homage to Buddha. According to Buddhist beliefs, a new batch of angels, called apsaras or devatas, descend during maha songkran to replace the old ones watching over the earth. It is like the changing of guards, if you like, and families greeted them by lighting incense and candles.


Traditionally, most Cambodians take a week off and use this opportunity to go back to their hometowns and be with their families, as most of the Cambodians that work in Phnom Penh come from different provinces in Cambodia.

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Most of the shops are closed and the streets are virtually empty.


kny and iggy2Cambodians prepare food and offerings to the monks and get blessings in return. The atmosphere is electrifying, and Miss Iggy can't help but notice at how infectious the joy and the smiles of her neighbours are. Iggy remembers the same joy we Filipinos feel during the festive Christmas and New Year celebrations back in the Philippines.

Yesterday was vanabat, or the second day of the new year. This is the time when Cambodians give charity, in cash or in kind, to their less fortunate neighbors and relatives. They also go to wats for a special ceremony dedicated to their ancestors.

Today, being the third and last day of the Khmer New Year celebration, is called the leung sakk. It is the time when Cambodians wash all Buddha statues with scented water. Children also pay respect to their elders by washing their feet, and in turn, they are blessed by them. For more Khmer New Year traditions, please read here.

We didn't go out as planned today because there are locals who throw water to unsuspecting passersby and engage in water fights. Although this practice was banned long time ago (water-throwing and water-fights caused a lot of traffic accidents), there are still playful Khmers who like doing this. It would have been fun dodging water bags and running away from water gun-toting locals... but I wouldn't want Miss Iggy to get wet. *lol*

3 comments:

fortuitous faery said...

i like the "apsara" story in the khmer new year. they throw water, too? reminds me of san juan fiesta in the philippines. hehe.

how lucky for miss iggy to experience her first khmer new year!

Cebu Image said...

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Emm said...

I love this post! Happy Khmer New Year! Don't children get one year older on New Year too?

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