Peace, Justice and Human Rights.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Khmer New Year/Chaul Chnam Thmey

The Cambodian New Year is celebrated for three days, after the end of the harvest in mid-April. Chaul Chnam Thmey marks the beginning of the year on the traditional Khmer calender. This is a time for feasting, games, and offerings.

As a part of the ritual of buong suong, dancers recreate the battle between the legendary figures of ocean goddess Moni Mekhala, protector of the waters, and the spirit Ream Eyso, controller of storms. They are the origins of thunder and lightening. It's hot and dry in Cambodia this time of year. The New Year is at the height of the hot season just before the monsoon rains wash away the dust and bring nourishment to the land.

Welcome the Songkran goddess, believed to descend to earth. Maha Songkran is the first day of the festivities, signaled by the drum or bell of the Buddhist temple. People light candles, burn incense and offer thanks for the teachings of Buddha. For good luck, wash with holy water.

Virak Wanabat is the name of the second day, a day of prayer and forgiveness. Give to charity and remember ancestorsNeither fire nor wind, birth nor death can erase our good deeds.

The third day is Tngay Leang Saka, a time for water splashing. Bathing of elders ensures their good advice for the future. Cleansing the Buddha statues symbolizes the water that is crucial to life. It brings longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity. 

"If you are courageous enough to risk everything for being alert and aware, enlightenment is going to happen."~Buddha

Happy Khmer New Year! Sok Sabay, Chnam Thmey!

At the very least, clean your house and eat some noodles!

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