All tribes around the globe have their own set of assorted believe and faith. Recently, Cambodia had just celebrated Khmer New Year, “the Year of the dog”, a lunar new year being practiced in Cambodia. It is one of the biggest public holidays for Cambodians in which families members and relatives gather and have fun together.
Every year, April 13th or 14th is usually the start of Khmer New Year’s Day. The holiday lasts for three days and each day has its own customs and rituals. For examples, having displayed a table of flowers, ancestor’s flags, water, fruits, cakes, drink and others to welcome New Year. We took sometimes to attend a dedication ceremony to our ancestors at the monasteries and we washed the Buddha statues and our parents/elderly relatives with perfumed water. By doing this, because we are 95% Buddhists, it is a symbolic practice believing that we could get rid of bad things we had from previous year and it is also a time we wish the upcoming year to bring us fortune, happiness, prosperity, healthy and wealthy.
During the new year days, in Siem Reap provincial town in particular, apart from the customary practices, around the Angkor World Heritage Site, the house of numerous ancient temples, the area in front of Angkor Wat and the center of ancient city of Angkor thom, was decorated with national flags, lights, banners and string of flowers on the top. Stages were installed to conduct ceremonial practices and performances. It was not just a set of traditional games there but also had big loud speakers which organized for the big event called “Angkor Sankranta” which means “ending of the [old] year [at] Angkor.
Cambodians takes the opportunity during the new years to travel to different tourist places throughout the country, but Angkor Sangkran is the most popular destination for locals to celebrate the New Year with their family members. As my observation to events, the influx of people traveling with their car, tuk-tuk and motorbike as means of transport went to take part in the events visiting exhibitions, performance, playing games in different places as well as visiting ancient temples. Every local resort and restaurant was filled with visitors who went for relaxing with family members and relatives. During those three days, reaching the competitive sites was not as easy as we have expected. In addition to local visitors traveling from many provinces, foreign visitors from around the world also gathered to experience and familiarize the celebration.
Some wonderful images still stained in my mind such as traffic congestion, crowded people at the competition, and accidents simultaneously happened during the special occasion but not much. The most interesting things for me to see after the days people celebrated is how the site was littered. Even though there were people who started cleaning up the site where the event took place, it was still a huge job for them as well as the local authorities to deal with. I wish every individual visitor could clean up the rubbish they created during their visit. After the three-day celebration, people prepared themselves to resume work or business as usual.