Khmer New Year Day

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Unlike other Asian countries which celebrate Lunar New Year in the late January or early February, Cambodia welcomes a new year at the mid of April, which is the end of harvesting season and farmers start enjoying the fruits before the rainy season.

The holiday lasts 3 days from 13th to 15th. The first day of New Year celebration is called “Moha Sangkran”. On this day, people nicely dress-up and light candle and burn incence sticks at shrines. Cambodians show special thanks to Buddha’s teachings by bowing, kneeling and prostrating themselves three times before Buddha’s image. Especially, Cambodians wash their faces with holy water in the morning, their chest at noon and their feet in the evening for good luck. The second day of New Year celebration is called Virak Wanabat. Cambodians spend this day on charitable activities by helping less fortune people. Families will attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at the monastery. The last day named T’ngai Leang Saka is to clean Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. Cambodians carried this activity with belief that it will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life. The Khmer New Year is also a time to prepare special dishes. One of them is “kralan” – a steamed rice cake mixed with beans or peas, grated coconut and coconut milk. The mixture is stuffed inside a bamboo stick and slowly roasted. Cambodians also have many traditional games to play in New Year such as Chab Kon Kleng, Leak Kanseng, Chol Chhoung, etc which bring a lot of fun and laugh on the first days of the year.

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