THE KHMER HAPPY NEW YEAR
All races of people in this universe celebrate their New Year, and they have done these celebrations on variously fixed dates upon their belief, tradition, and custom. Among these people Khmer has gathered together and have consented to hold up New Year celebrations, since the ancient time. By the way Cambodia’s traditional New Year, “ Chaol Chhoam Khmer”, is held in around mid- April or the Chet, the fifth month of the Cambodian lunar calendar during which cultivators are relieved from their farm work after the dry- season rice harvest.
The obvious cause for ending the old year and stepping into the new one was the deep-rooted belief in a long-long ago legend called Kabil Mohaprum, “ Long long ago there was a millionaire’s son called Thamabal Komar, who was very clever and knew Thrived and ass the birds languages. Kabel Monal’rum heard of that thing, so he put a puzzle including 3 provisions to Thamabal Komar. He asked like this: First provision, where the mankind’s prosperity is in the morning. Second, provision where is the mankind’s prosperity afternoon. Third provision where is the mankind’s prosperity in the evening. This puzzle he gave the chance Thamabal Komar 7 days to answer. And then Kabel MohaPrum promised that “if Thamabal Komar can answer his puzzle he will cut his head”. At that time thamabal Komar run out of idea, and he was very hopeless. He wanted to commit suicide because there was only one day left for him to need KabalmohaPrum and to answer the puzzle, so at night he went to sit under a big tree in order to hit his head to the tree for committing suicide. Fortunately, he heard the two eagles discussing about this puzzle on the tree; as a result, he knew the answer of the puzzle, so he came back home by bringing the happy mood. Fixed day to meet Kabel MohaPrum came, so he answered like this: First provision, the mankind’s prosperity in the morning is on the face, so people have to wash their face in the morning. Second provision, the mankind’s prosperity afternoon is on the chest, so people have to wash their chest with cold water afternoon. Third provision, the mankind’s prosperity in the evening is on the foot, so people have to wash their feet with cold water in the evening before going to bed. These answers were correct, so Kabel MohaPrum cut his head sacrifice for Thamabal Komar. His 7 daughters were asked to bring the metal plate for keeping his head on it. And then the oldest daughter was asked to parade her father’s head first round Mount Preah Someru for 60 minutes and then put in Kunthak Mealea cavern of Mount Kailas. Therefore, when the Sankran New Year comes the seven goddesses will change the shift to parade Kabel MohaPrum’s head round Mount Someru every year”. Some others people have believed that during the old year in which they survived they usually encountered jinxes or unlock, so they celebrate the New Year in order try to pray the God in the New Year makes all those bad problems in the old year become better.
From Nokor Phnom time up, in Cambodia, Khmer people followed lunar calendar by which the New Year’s Day fall on Kadik month, which is November or October of the universal year. Later, the people have adopted solar calendar by which the New Year’s Day falls on Khe Chet, the fourth month of lunar calendar, which is April of the universal year.
According to the customs, the new year celebration is held for three days the first day is the Mohasangran Day , then the second one is Virak Vanabut Day, and finally the third day is Virak Loeng Sak Day . usually, the celebration is on the thirteenth, fourteenth, and fifteenth while it occasionally can be on the fourteenth until the sixteenth of April, and can be in Khe Pisak, the fifth month as well.
The due time in which the month, day , hour and minute the old year ends the new year God has to descend our world form the heaven to substitute for the old-year is decided by traditional astrologist and horoscope.
An arrangement is traditionally made for the coming New Year as follows: few days before the New Year’s Eve, food supplies are reserved, houses, and pagodas are decorated with flowers, multiform lamps, candles, colored papers, incense sticks. When the New Year‘s day come, PakLikha (a particular religious ceremony) is celebrated to welcome the New Year’s Angel. After that, the participants begin to light incenses so as to pray for happiness and good luck form the Angel.
People in the morning go to pagodas to make offering to monks, in the afternoon they build up small stapes made of sand pagodas’ surroundings, in the late afternoon monks are offered certain drinks and then Buddhism lecture is given to the supporters.
Children or grandchildren offer food, clothes, money to their parents and grandparents, and also present gifts to the pout. In the afternoon Buddha supporters make up sand mountains and invite monks to join Band Skhoul (a certain kind of Buddhism ceremonies), in order to dedicate to dead ancestors.
In the morning monks are invited to pass the sand mountains, and be washed in the afternoon. Some families wash their parents, grandparents, for asking excuse for their bad behaviors and mistakes that were made in the old years.
During in the New Year festival which lasts for three days, Khmer, the traditional music is usually playing by an orchestra call “Pin Peat” in order to offering to monks and pray for the soul of their ancestors. People are most enjoy the New Year festival because they gather in front of their houses and the pagodas to warship, or in public parks to enjoy themselves, they sing, dance day and night the Romvong, Saravan, LamLeav, Ramkbach, (the most popular dance in Cambodia), or joint in different traditional games such as Chaol Chhoung ( knotted scarf throwing –participants group themselves in two-one male group and one female group. Members of each group, standing in line, take turn to throw the knotted scarf to the other side. Those who fail to catch the scarf have to sing a song.) and Bos Angkunh(nut throwing game). In the village and even in the street of Phnom Penh, the kids play Choal Chhoung and Angkunh lat into the evening to receive the guardian angels for the New Year. They also play a strong social role as the boys and girls meet perhaps to start a life long romance over karma or an exotic fruit. In the country side, long handle grutar singers are often invited to sing folk song narrating legends or tales. In the town or city, people, in the finest clothes, stroll around public gardens, visit beauty sports, or see exhibitions, and there are some local custom rarely seen in the city such as revelers throwing buckets of water over each other and dance the reflect the rural lifestyle, by the way the most of people always go to play traditional games at Wat Phnom.
The Khmer New Year is very special, big, good, and important ceremony for Cambodians because this festival, by custom, people are not allowed to kill all animals on earth, do business, make dispute, beat other person lie or to play bad thing about people, it’s mean that during the New Year’s day If people can give up their bad temper and bad behavior, they also can get prosperity in the hold year. On the other hands, Khmer New Year is festival that makes the people get on well together by playing traditional games.