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Unique way Cambodians mark 3-day New Year celebrations that happen in April

Every year, Cambodia holds a three-day public holiday to observe New Year’s Day dubbed Cambodian New Year or Khmer New Year which usually falls on 13 April or 14 April.

The period is also the harvesting season where farmers enjoy their harvest before the rainy season begins and they get back to the farm once again.

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During the first day dubbed Moha Sangkran, Cambodians dress up, light candles, burn incense sticks at shrines and pay homage to offer thanks for the Buddha’s teachings by bowing.

People also kneel and prostrate themselves in front of Buddha’s image at least three times a day.

For good luck people wash their face with holy water in the morning, their chests at noon, and their feet in the evening before they go to bed.

On the second day dubbes Veareak Vanabat, people contribute charity to the less fortunate by helping the poor, servants, homeless, and low-income families.

Families also attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at monasteries.

On the third and final day dubbed Veareak Laeung Sak, buddhists wash the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water.

It is said that bathing the Buddha images is a symbolic practice to wash bad actions away like water clean dirt from household items.

On the third and final day dubbed Veareak Laeung Sak, buddhists wash the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water Photo: Courtesy

It is also thought to be a kind deed that will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life.

Cambodians also engaged in different kinds of traditional games through the period to transform the dull days into memorable occasions with the games mostly played in street corners.

It is also believed that the games help maintain one’s mental and physical dexterity.

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The games include;

  • Chol Chhoung – played especially on the first nightfall of the celebrations by two groups of boys and girls.
  • Chap Kon Kleng – played by imitating a hen as she protects her chicks from a crow. The game is mostly played by adults on the night of the first New Year’s Day.
  • Bos Angkunh – simple style consisting of throwing Angkunhs to hit the target Angkunhs. The extended style adds five more stages in addition to the throwing stage.
  • Bay Khom – played by two children in rural or urban areas during their leisure time. Ten holes are dug in the shape of an oval into a board in the ground. The game is played with 42 small beads, stones or fruit seeds.
  • Leak Kanseng – played by a group of children sitting in a circle.

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