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Happy Khmer New Year!

Known as 'Chaul Chnam Thmey' in the Khmer language, the Cambodian {Khmer} New Year is a three-day celebration that this year falls on April 14-16, after the end of the harvest to mark the turn of the year according to the Buddhist lunar calendar. This year is the Year of the Ox.

The event is a grand occasion throughout the country and is celebrated with religious ceremonies at shrines and temples. It's also common to share a lavish meal with friends, families and loved ones. Every home is decorated, shrines are filled with food and traditional games performed. Best place to watch or take part: around Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Celebrations typically end with a loud fireworks display.

{Cambodian New Year Fireworks Display at Angkor Wat, Cambodia. Photo from my Uncle Bunnett. Source unknown}

This year Christopher, Atticus and I celebrated at the Memphis Cambodian Buddhist Temple this past Saturday. All photos below were taken during our visit.

The Khmer New Year festival originated from Bramhmanism, a part of Hinduism, which was a religion that Khmer believed in before Buddhism. Later on Buddhism became associated with the festival and then took all the important roles in the festivity. It is held in Khae Chaet lunar month (April) each year. It normally falls on the first, second and third day of waning moon(dark night).

It has been recorded that, in the past, the Kings and the Cambodian people celebrated the New Year around the first day of January, but the date was then changed because it fell during the time that farmers were busy cultivating their crops. The date was changed to fall after the rice harvesting season for Cambodians to truly celebrate the New Year with their families.

The Three Day Rituals
The first day is Maha Sahgkrant (MOH-hah sahng KRAHN) which is the entry into the New Year when the New Angel arrives at the signal of the drum or bell at the Buddhist temple. During this day people participate in games and ceremonies. One of the activities is to build a small sand mountain. Each piece of sand that is added is believed to produce more health & happiness in their lives. People light candles and pray that the New Heaven will bring them joy. The people bring food for the monks & pray for them. There is a feast of traditional foods.

{preparing the papaya relish and sweet asian barbeque ribs}

The second day is Vana Bat, This is a day to show consideration for the elders, like parents, grandparents teachers.

The third day is Loeung Sack. On this day the monks bless the sand mountain. This is also the day for cleaning the Buddha statues with perfumed water to bring good luck, long life & happiness. It is also common for people to bathe their parents and grandparents as part of the cleansing ritual.

History of the Memphis Cambodian Buddhist Temple
{5111 Bryndale Ave}
“The temple used to be the site of a community center. Built in 1961, the 3,872-square-foot structure was purchased in 1999 by members of the local Cambodian community who wanted a place to worship and socialize. Thoeurn "John" Chan, a local jeweler and pawnshop owner, spearheaded the project. Besides donating a large portion of the money himself, he helped secure the financing for the loan. Chan undertook the effort because he just wanted to bring in something nice for the community.”

{One of the flags that decorated the buildings' eaves, the raising of the flags, and
2 teenagers reluctant for the photo op.}

{A Cambodian girl teases Christopher. Atticus hanging out on the slide that he slid down many, many times.}
In order to observe Easter Sunday with my family, there was no posting April 12th or the 13th. Enjoy 2 postings today and an extra one this week. I don't think this should matter for most but thanks for those keeping up every day.

1 comment:

  1. my dad showed me a flyer of the khmer new year w/ your blog site on it. so i decided to check it out. and i see you have a photo of him grilling! lol. i'll have to show him this. btw, you have awesome music taste (your playlist on here)!


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