New Year or Chaul Chnam Thmey in the Khmer language literal translation “Coming of the New Year”, is the name of the Cambodian holiday that celebrates the new year. Cambodian New Year is celebrated every year in the middle of the month of April and the holiday lasts for three days, most commonly, from April 13th to 15th. Sometimes the holiday falls between the 14th to 16th of April. This time of the year represents the end of the harvesting season. The farmers enjoy the fruits of their harvest and relax before the rainy season begins.
The first day of the new year celebration is called Moha Songkran. 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. 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.
Wanabat is the name of the second day of the new year celebration. People contribute charity to the less fortunate, help the poor, servants, homeless people, and low-income families. Families attend a dedication ceremony to their ancestors at the monastery.
Tngai Laeung saka is the name of the third day of the new year celebration. Buddhist cleanse the Buddha statues and 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.
During the Khmer New Year Festival, youths gather to play popular traditional games such as Chaol Chhoung (throwing a ball) and Bas Angkunh (throwing brown seeds). The youths are normally divided into female and male teams to play these games. Other traditional games are such as Tres, Chab Kon Kleng, Leak Kanseng, Bay Khom and Klah Klok.
The Khmer people will also gather together and visit pagodas and temples on the occasion of the Khmer New year. Each year many residents from other provinces visit Angkor Wat to worship to the powerful gods and trace their ancestors’ heritage.