If you visit a Pagoda, take a change of clothes with you as the monks are very practiced at not missing anyone in their purification! We volunteers might add that the ODA students are almost as accurate as the monks!!!
Impossible to avoid these practiced monks!
Watch out above or beside you wherever you walk at this time of year as Cambodians take the ‘Putification’ aspects literally, and douse you from above windows or steps and often also throw handfuls of coloured dry paint along with the water!
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Nowhere is safe from the purification and Khmer people take great delight at catching their fellow villagers unawares!
Culturally this is a very happy time, Cambodia Khmer New Year is traditionally celebrated on April 13 or 14 each year,
Khmer New Year, Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei. (Enter the New Year)
It traditionally marks the end of the harvest season and is Cambodia’s single most important holiday. In fact for many workers it is the only holiday that they have.
The cities shut down for a week over Khmer New Year while Cambodians try to afford to return to their villages to spend time with their families, have parties, and visit the local pagoda. Of course unemployment due to Covid and the poverty that is so rife from that now, means that everything will be scaled back, however they will manage to have their games etc and it will lighten things for them a little, particularly the children. They are no stranger to tough times.
Culturally Khmer New Year is timed around harvest having been completed prior to the extreme heat where days are 39 to 45 degrees, so traditionally farmers are unable to work the land again until the Wet Season arrives. This makes time for farmers to take a break and enjoy their traditions.
The Khmer villagers around ODA schools mark their New Year with purification ceremonies, visits to temples, and playing traditional games.
At home, they strictly perform their cultural house cleaning and set up altars to offer sacrifices to the sky deities, or devodas, who are believed to make their way to the Mount Meru of legend at this time of year.
At the temples, entrances are garlanded with coconut leaves and flowers. Locals visit the pagodas and bring offerings of food, desserts, and other everyday items to appease their deceased ancestors.
ODA student dancers are often asked to perform at temples , however this year Leng is
being very Covid careful and keeping them close to home, where so far there have been no breakouts. These are Temple dancers.
The temple courtyards also become playgrounds for the Khmer, who play traditional Khmer games during this time of year. A game called angkunh, for example, uses large inedible nuts that are tossed and knocked about by opposing teams. Maybe the Asian idea of Boules?
Covid-19 concerns -
While Prime Minister Hun Sen has decided to give civil servants and private employees three days off, he has urged everyone to follow the Health Ministry’s health measures to prevent and contain the COVID-19 outbreak. Last years celebrations were cancelled, so Cambodians are hoping this years will still go ahead – even if in a smaller way than is normally practiced.
We hope those of you who celebrate Easter, managed to have a happy time around your countries Covid restrictions.
Stay Safe until we have a safer world.