Khmer New Year Celebrations Get Underway

People gather at Wat Phnom to celebrate Khmer New Year on April. 13. Photo: Phnom Penh Administration

PHNOM PENH — One of Cambodia’s biggest festivals kicked off on April 13 with events held across the country.

Khmer New Year or Chol Chnam Thmey, which has also been called Sankranta, is being celebrated over four days from April 13 through April 16. A combination of Buddhist and traditional events, the new year is a time for families to come together.

People in the capital and 25 provinces have been getting ready for the celebrations that include a large number of activities organized for the population.

Battambang and Prey Veng provinces are holding events over five days from April 12 through 16. Tboung Khmum, Kampot and Svay Rieng provinces are organizing three days of events on April 14 through 16, while the other provinces in the country have events over four days from April 13 through 16.

In addition to religious customs such as offering food to the monks, bathing the Buddha and welcoming the new angel—it is believed that an angel comes down to bring happiness and good weather for the harvest of the coming year—activities include traditional dance performances, folk games and the much-anticipated custom of splashing water on people.

The water splashing or powder games will only be held at designated areas in each province and, even though they are quite popular during New Year’s celebrations, splashing people travelling on a road will be prohibited as this could lead to accidents.  

King Norodom Sihamoni and Cambodia’s top leaders have issued New Year messages, wishing people prosperity, growth and peace in the country.

U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken has sent his best wishes to Cambodia, expressing his country’s intention to maintain good relations between the two nations.

“As we move ahead, the United States will continue to work with the Cambodian people to build a more prosperous, democratic, and independent country,” he said in a statement on April 11. “We are committed to strengthening the people-to-people ties that underpin the longstanding partnership between the United States and the Kingdom of Cambodia.”

ASEAN also sent its best wishes, saying on its Facebook page on Apr. 13 “may this special time be filled with blessings, prosperity, and unity for all. Let the vibrant traditions and cultural heritage of Cambodia shine brightly as we celebrate together as one ASEAN family.”

Related Articles