Living in Phnom Penh: Celebrating Lunar New Year, The Khmer Way
Cambodia has a sizable Chinese population and their influence in the Khmer culture is really evident. From their food, language and also their traditions and rituals. It’s hardly surprising that Chinese New Year is celebrated here in a more festive manner than the International New Years.
The Lunar New Year is not an official holiday here in Cambodia but even non-Chinese Khmers look forward to this occasion. Most shops and business are closed for a few days. Everything is quiet and majority just stay home, making offerings and praying, while the rest hightail it to the provinces.
Hubby’s family stays home mostly and observe a lot of rituals. They cook a lot of food (seriously a lot..and can last a few days..), make offerings, visit relatives, give gifts, on the first two days. Then the following days are usually rest days. All in all the celebration-holiday lasts for about 5 days.
Anyway, after we were done with offerings and prayers for the first day, we had nothing else to do. Most businesses were closed so Hi-ace decided we go visit the Chinese temple in Takhmao. So off we went. But it was soooooo crowded. I just ended up taking photos of the temple entrance.
A lot of people – Chinese and non-Chinese alike, were lining up the streets buying sugar cane stalks, pomegranate fruits and leaves and mien fruit which they will take inside the temple to be blessed. They believe sugar cane to bring in good luck, help foster harmonious relationships, the pomegranate they believe to ward off bad luck and evil, and the mien/longgan bring in prosperity and wealth.
We did not go inside the temple but instead went to another Chinese temple a few hundred meters from the first one. I love this temple and regularly visit. It’s pretty colorful, ornate, and not so crowded. There was mini-dragon dance and Chinks loves looking at their turtle pond..
It was a festive time, and I hope the new year brings us a lot of luck. But for now, I’m also glad the celebration is over. Well, mainly because my diet was ruined and it was exhausting..