Happy Khmer New Year, 2016

April 6, 2016

“Sus’ Dei Chnam Thmei”2016

To President HE Dr. Kao Kim Hourn and HE Khem Rany-Kao,  my Cambodian colleagues  at The University of Cambodia and Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations, Cambodians who read this Blog and my Facebook and other Cambodians throughout the Kingdom, Dr. Kamsiah and I wish you a Happy and Prosperous Khmer New Year.

May Cambodia under the dynamic and people-centered leadership of HE Prime Minister Samdech Techo Hun Sen continue to be in peace and security and enjoy continued economic prosperity in ASEAN. Thanks for taking good care of me.–Din Merican

Here is what is very special  about this important occasion in the Khmer Calendar:

Sus’ Dei Chnam Thmei” is a 3-day festival starting  on April 13 or April 14 to celebrate the New Year. Everyone is out on the streets wishing each other and their families success, peace and happiness.  Much earlier, during Angkor times, the New Year was celebrated 4 months earlier on the 1st day of the first lunar month. This was abandoned after Angkor, as a solar calendar was adopted and gained popularity.

The main reason for the change was the end of the dry season, when the peasants finished their work in the fields and the harvest had been put away safely before the start of the rainy season, and people had more time to celebrate. Therefore, one of the Kings decided to change the New Year festival to the month of April and to follow a solar calendar.

The first day of the Khmer New Year is called Moha Songkran.

On that day, a new god or angel is appointed to protect the world for the year ahead. To welcome him, people clean and decorate their houses and themselves, to make sure that the New Year does not start with bad luck or unhappiness. Each home “competes” to welcome the new god or angel individually by offering a table full of fruits, a cake with candles, incense sticks decorated with flowers, and flashing light chains to ensure that the house and the family are protected for the rest of the year.

The time around New Year is the only time when young Cambodians are allowed to meet and engage in “mixed” plays. It is also the opportunity for young men to look for potential brides. That’s the tradition.

The Second Day of the New Year is called Wanabat.

This means “Day of Giving”. Traditionally, on this day one gives gifts to parents, grand-parents, and elderly people. Children receive new clothes, and poor people are given money or clothes. In the evening, the monks in the pagodas are asked to give a blessing.

The Third Day of the New Year is called Tanai Lieang Saka and means “new beginning”.

After seeking the blessings of the monks in the morning, a joyful farewell celebration is held in the afternoon. In the streets and in public places, people pour water on each other. Children and young people throw baby powder and flour at each other. People that usually work far away from their families in other provinces make it a point to return to their families to celebrate the New Year together.

Cities, especially the capital Phnom Penh, are very quiet during that time, as most people who live and work in Phnom Penh are not born there. They come from other provinces, such as Siem Reap, Battambang, Kampong Cham, Kompong Thom, Svay Rieng, and others of the 24 provinces that make up the country.

At the beginning of the festival, people usually cook food and bring it to the monks in the pagodas. The pagodas are also a good place for Cambodians to meet other people who are also born in their region or who went to school together, but now live and work in other places. The pagoda thus becomes a place of reunion, meeting old friends and exchanging news about their lives. During the festival, many traditional plays are played, such as throwing of “Ongkunhs”, rope pulling contests, and others. After the festival, people return to their places of work and wait for the next festival, Pchum Ben Tag. That will be the next time when the whole family and friends get together again .http://www.visit-angkor.org

2 thoughts on “Happy Khmer New Year, 2016

  1. Din: My Khmer golf buddy told me there are several ways to say Happy New Year depending on which part of the country you’re from. So, Rik Reay Chhna Thmei, Sur Sdei Chhnam Thmei, and Syew Staaaid Cham Tmea. I remember before Hari Raya my kampong was lit up by numerous lamps on wooden T-poles and us kids running around playing catch. Where have these happy days gone? On Hari Raya our Malay neighbors would invite my family to their homes, and them coming to mine during Chinese New Year. They never questioned what we served them. Where have all the trusts gone. On Moon Festival, my father and our Malay neighbors having tea, watching me and my Malay friends playing with the lanterns he made, and struggled in broken Malay to tell tales about Moon Festival. Where has this harmony gone? Tell me, my friend, what has become of Malaysia? Is it important if Jesus was Muslim or not?

  2. As you see from the youtube video, Cambodia, Land of a Free People, has a young but increasingly educated population. English is widely spoken here.

    The Government led by His Excellency Prime Minister is committed to the pursuit of excellence in education. The Techo Sen School of Government and International Relations at The University of Cambodia was established to honour HE Techo Hun Sen and support his vision of a Cambodia that seeks to be an active member of the ASEAN and the global community.

    It is not widely known, at least not yet, that Cambodia contributes to UN Peacekeeping and Peace building missions around the world and sends her de-mining experts to assist in the removal of personnel and anti-tank mines around the world. Over the last 2 decades, Cambodia has been growing in GDP at an average rate of 7.7 per cent in real terms That is impressive indeed..–Din Merican

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