Yes, its April already and were celebrating New Year here in Cambodia. Why is it so late? I’m always asked this question. Well, the Chol Chnam Thmei (or the Khmer New Year) is based on the lunar calendar. The celebrations last for three days usually April 13 or April 14th.During this time, farmers have bountiful harvest and this is their time to enjoy before the rainy season starts.
I did mention its three days but in actuality the holidays last for the whole week the New Year falls on so there’s plenty of holiday and vacation time for everyone. So almost everyone goes somewhere, whether its the nearby provinces or neigboring countries. That’s what we have done too for the past year but this year we opted to stay in Phnom Penh coz its Chinkee’s birthday and hubby’s relatives have some parties organized.
Curious about what goes on during the 3-day celebration? Hi-ace tells me that before they used to follow a certain chronology as to what to do during the new year but now that people are getting busier and busier, Khmers tend to visit the pagoda’s depending on their free schedule. Most people I know take their vacations first then on the last day of the 3-day celebration, they go and visit the pagoda’s to offer food, burn incense and offering thanks.
We’ve already done our pagoda rounds yesterday morning since Ma didn’t want to go with the throngs of Khmer who comes during the last few days. I must say it was a good idea since its scorching hot here and we managed to visit several pagodas in just one morning because there weren’t any maddening crowds..
For younger Khmers they usually enjoy street dancing so its not suprising to find impromptu dance venues all around the country during the whole New year season. Games are also played I was told and I saw this one time when we visited a pagoda last year.
And of course, food is bountiful! Lol! My Khmer family usually cooks several dishes everyday during the course of the New Year so I’m quite happy I won’t need to cook for one week. The only downside is that I’ll probably be mad diet again because of too much binge eating during the New Year.. Maybe I should pray to the Buddha to grant me self-discipline and self-control hmm?