celebrate their New Year as the cultural background in April according to the ancient fairy tale.

The fairy-tale is following the “Kabel Moha Pruhm History” who asked three questions to “Thomabal Komar”, a smart man as he was young, who has known three perceptions of “Trai Vith” and all kinds of the animal’s languages. They all had promised to cut the head if one of them had failed the answer. Agreement took 7 days to answer. “Thomabal Komar” have no way to find the solution at the 6 days had gone. He felled very hopeless, but fortunately, there were a partner of eagles which had spoken about these questions to make “Thomabal Komar” could find the way to answer. The time of agreement arrived, and “Thomabal Komar” had spoken that:

1. In the morning, the happiness is on the face that is why all people have to wash their face.
2. In the afternoon, the happiness is on the breath to make the people take water to wash the breath.
3. In the evening, the happiness is on the foot to make the people wash their food in the evening.

The result has broken out – “Kabel Moha Pruhm” had to cut his head to give to the elder daughter, and she had taken it to go around Preah So Meru mountain about 60 minutes after they all bring it to put in the center of KUHA KUNTH MALAY of KAILASH mountain (in paradise). In the end of the year the 7 females angles (his daughters) have changed their turn to take the head to go around the mountain every year till the present.

This is the reason to the New Year Ceremongy “Sangkran or Moha Sangkran” – Changing from old year to the New Year.

Khmer New Year Traditions
Everyday people visit temples to get blessings from monks and priests. They build a sand hill or 5 sand-hills on the temple grounds and decorate it with five religious flags one on the top and four around the sides. This sand-hills represents Buddhas’ five disciples.

People of Cambodia follow a tradition to sprinkle holy water on each others faces in the morning, on the chest at noon and on the feet in the evening. These days people also pour colored water on their friends and relatives. Colored water symbolize different colors of life in future. Tradition of throwing powder on each other at the time of New Year is also very famous.

Khmer New Year Celebrations
New Year in Cambodia is celebrated by performing various rituals and playing number of games. The three day New Year celebration include the following traditions:

First Day Celebrations – Moha Sangkran
The first day of the New Year is called Moha Sangkran. It is believed that on this day God’s angels come to earth to take care of it’s creation. To welcome these holy angels, people clean and light up their houses. Members of the family place an idol of Lord Buddha on an altar with flowers, candles, incense sticks, a bowl of scented water, eatables, drinks and shaped out banana leaves.
Food prepared at the time of Moha Sangkran is offered to monks and priests of the temples.

Second Day Celebrations – Vanabot
On the second day of Khmer New Year celebrations, people offer charity and alms to the poor. It is also considered good to present gifts to family members and relatives. At some official places, employees get gifts and other monetary incentives.

Third Day Celebrations – Leung Sakk
On the third day of New Year celebrations people wash all the idols of Lord Buddha with scented water. It is said this ensures good rains all year long. Children pay respect to their elders by washing their feet and get blessings in return. This ceremony of giving a special bath to Buddha statues, monks and elders is called Pithi Srang Preah.

Khmer New Year Games
After performing all rituals and customs to welcome the New Year, it’s time to have some fun. Some physical activities become part of New Year celebrations. Popular games played at the time of New Year in Cambodia are listed below:

  • Chol Chhoung
    Played on the night of day one by group of boys and girls standing opposite to each other. One group throws the Chol Chhoung (Khmer scarf ball) on the other and if someone gets hit by the ball then the whole group dances to get the Chhoung back while the other group sings.
  • Chab Kon Kleng
    In this game, one imitates as a hen protecting her chicks from a crow. It is played on the first night of the New Year. The crow tries to catch as many chicks as possible while both the groups sing a song of bargaining.
  • Bos Angkunh
    This game is played by the groups of boys and girls. Each group throws their angkunh (an inedible fruit seed) to hit the angkunh of the other group. The winners must knock the knee of the losers with the angkunh.
  • Leak Kanseng
    It is mostly played by a group of children. They sit in a circle. Someone holds a kanseng (Cambodian towel) twisted in a round shape and moves around the circle. The child moving around the circle secretly keeps the kanseng behind one of the children. If the chosen child realizes the kanseng behind him then he must beat the person sitting next to him.
  • Teanh Prot
    Teanh prot (pulling the rope) means in English as “tug-of-war” is one of the most important ritual games played nationwide during certain times of year, especially around the three-day New Year holiday.
    To play the game, normally two teams—one male and one female—compete against each other by pulling the rope. At the end of the game, the winning team runs over to the losing team and winners bump their buttocks against the bodies of the losing team.
Photo: Khmer New Year in Norway in April 2019
Photo: Khmer New Year in Norway in April 2019

Chhay Yam's Dance, Khmer New Year 2019 at Vennesla Hall, Norway
Chhay Yam’s Dance, Khmer New Year 2019 at Vennesla Hall, Norway