April 15, 2012

Chaul Chnam Thmey

Today is the last day of the Khmer/Cambodian New Year or in Khmer language Chaul Chnam Thmey (literally translates "enter new year").

The Khmer New Year is a 3-day celebration that started last Friday, the 13th until the 15th, today. But in the corporate world, the holiday is extended until tomorrow. The schools are even closed until Friday. Lucky EJ, they have a long holiday!

For me, Khmer New Year (KNY) usually means summer is almost over and it's going to be umbrella, umbrella stands and boots time.

The three days of KNY (from Wikipedia):

Maha Songkran

Maha Songkran, derived from Sanskrit Maha Sankranti, is the name of the first day of the new year celebration. It is the ending of the year and the beginning of a new one. People dress up and light candles and burn incense sticks at shrines, where the members of each family pay homage to offer thanks for the Buddha's teachings by bowing, kneeling and prostrating themselves three times before his image. 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.

Virak Wanabat

Virak Wanabat is the name of the second day of the new year celebration. People contribute charity to the less fortunate by helping the poor, servants, homeless, and low-income families. Families attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at the monastery.

Tngay Leang Saka

Tngay Leang Saka is the name of the third day of the new year celebration. Buddhists cleanse the Buddha statues and their elders with perfumed water. Bathing the Buddha images is the symbol that water will be needed for all kinds of plants and lives. It is also thought to be a kind deed that will bring longevity, good luck, happiness and prosperity in life. By bathing their grandparents and parents, children can obtain from them best wishes and good advice for the future.

This is our third KNY and the first time we just stayed put in Phnom Penh. The first one, we went to Angkor Wat. Last year, we went to Hongkong and Macau. This year, we decided to just stay home and avoid expenses as we are going to Philippines next week.

With the locals gone home to their provinces and the expats on to nearby cities and countries for a mini-break, Phnom Penh is really quite. It's my first time to see the city so still. It's almost a surreal experience. Even here in our subdivision, I think we are the only one who has not left the city. LOL!

To all Cambodians, Happy Khmer New Year! May you have a wonderful time with your family and loved ones celebrating this holidays.