Khmer people's joiness in New Year festival

12/04/2014
                                             Khmer people in Soc Trang flock to pagoda
I was so happy and lucky to visit the southern provinces of Bac Lieu, Soc Trang and Tra Vinh in April to join with Khmer people ahead of their traditional Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year) festival, which falls annually in mid-April.

In those days, there were a lot of visiters come here to share happiness and join with local community for the New Year festival. Among them are the officers from the State and Government. In Soc Trang, home to about 400,000 Khmer people, Secretary of the provincial Party Committee Vo Minh Chien wished all Khmer monks, heroic mothers and people a happy New Year. He praised the Khmer ethnic minority community’s contributions to the province’s socio-economic development and political security maintenance.

The Khmer people said they are pleased with the Party and State’s investment in Khmer-inhabited areas that has helped improve their living standards and reduce poverty among them.Meanwhile, leaders of the Southwestern Region Steering Committee and provincial authorities met with nearly 300 representatives of Khmer monks and people in Bac Lieu province. In Tra Vinh province, more than 600 Khmer officials, monks and people also gathered to celebrate the festival.

In 2013, thanks to the Party and State’s policies, more than 800 Khmer households escaped from poverty. In the first quarter of this year, the province invested over 314 billion VND (14.7 million USD) in building homes for 26,442 poor Khmer households. On this occasion, authorities of the three provinces also visited and presented gifts to local Khmer people.

The Chol Chnam Thmay festival is one of the most important festivals of the year for Khmer people. It is usually held at pagodas during which people wish and pray for a lucky new year.
Khmer people’s new year festival lasts three days and four days in leap years. Each of these days has its own name. Apart from worshipping the Buddha, Khmer people believe that every year the heaven sends a god called Tevoda to the earth to look after human beings and their life. At the end of the year, the god returns to heaven and another one will replace him. Therefore, in the new year’s eve, every family prepares a party, burns incense and lights up lamps in a ceremony to see off the old Tedova and greet the new one. They also pray to this god for good luck.

Khmer people always prepare for the new year ceremony very carefully. They clean and redecorate their house and buy necessary food for the holidays. They stop all farm work, relax and set free their cattle. The three official festival days are held in a joyful and exciting way.

The first day is for the ceremony to receive the great calendar. Moha Sang-Kran is considered a calendar which gives a detailed account of dates and festivals in a year and a forecast of rainfall so the villagers can foresee if they get a good or bad crop that year. On this day, at a selected hour no matter it is in the morning or afternoon, people take a bath and put on their best clothes in anticipation of the new year. They take incense, lamps, flowers and fruits to a pagoda where they do the great calendar-receiving ceremony. At the pagoda, Moha Sang-Kran, put on a red-lacquered, gilded tray, is placed on a palanquin and carried three times round the main sanctuary. This rite is to welcome the new year and wait for omens for a bad or good new year. Then the official ceremony is carried out inside the sanctuary. After that, every participant prays to the Buddha and chant prayers for a happy new year. Young males and females walk out to the pagoda yard and join in fun activities until late at night.

The second day is for the ceremony to offer boiled rice and heap up a sandy mountain. On this day, every Khmer family cooks rice and offers it to Buddhist monks at the pagoda in early morning and at noon. The monks chant prayers to thank those who make the food and bring it to their pagoda and say good luck to them.

On the afternoon the same day, people start to heap up a sandy mountain in search of happiness and luck. They make small mountains looking to eight directions and one in the middle which represent the universe. This custom originates from an age-old legend. It displays people’s aspirations for rain.

The third day is for the ceremony to wash the Buddha’s statue and Buddhist monks. After giving boiled rice to the monks in the morning, they continue to listen to Buddhist teachings. In the afternoon, they burn incense, offer sacrifices and use scented water to wash the statue in order to pay tribute and gratitude to the Buddha. This is also to get rid of the old year’s misfortunes and wish all the best for the new year. The monks do a ceremony to pray for peace in the dead’s souls. After that, the people return to their house and wash the Buddha’s statue at home. They offer dishes, confectionery and fruits to ask for happiness for their parents and grandparents and being forgiven for their mistakes made in the old year.

During these three days, Khmer people go to visit each other and wish good health, good luck and prosperity to each other. They also join in fun activities.

Chol Chnam Thmay festival shows Khmer people’s aspirations, like many others ethnic groups, to forget about the old year’s misfortunes and look for a better new year. 

This is one of the clear evidences about Freedom of Religion and Belief in Viet Nam. The consistent policy of Viet Nam is to respect and facilitate the exercise of the right to freedom of religion and belief by all the people, uphold the solidarity and harmony among religions, guarantee the equality and non-discrimination as well as protect activities of religious groups by law.
On this occasion, I want to give my best wishes to all Khmer people, they have shown me how beautiful in their tradition and the importance of understanding each others among ethnics in Vietnam.
Chia sẻ bài viết ^^
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All comments [ 10 ]


Phạm Hiếu 12/4/14 20:57

I really want to join this festival!

Quốc Kiên 12/4/14 21:04

So do I. There are a lot of interesting and meaningful games on this event. Especially, there are also delicious dishes for everyone to taste.

Huy Lâm 12/4/14 21:06

I had chance to visited Soc Trang at this time last year. I really surprised and happy to join the Chol Chnam Thmay festival.

Quốc Cường 12/4/14 21:09

Vietnam's culture is so great and diverse!

Lê Tín 12/4/14 21:11

As i known, Khmer people’s new year festival lasts three days and four days in leap years. Each of these days has its own name. Apart from worshipping the Buddha, Khmer people believe that every year the heaven sends a god called Tevoda to the earth to look after human beings and their life.

Quân Hoàng 12/4/14 21:13

Khmer people always prepare for the new year ceremony very carefully. They clean and redecorate their house and buy necessary food for the holidays.

Huy Quốc 12/4/14 21:15

The first day is called Chol sangkran Chmay. On this day, at a selected hour, people take a bath and put on their best clothes in anticipation of the New Year.

Hoàng Lân 12/4/14 21:16

How's about the other days of this festival?

Vân Nhàn 12/4/14 21:18

The second day, known as Wonbof, is for the ceremony to offer boiled rice at the pagoda. And the third day, Lom Sak, is for the ceremony to wash the Buddha statue and the Buddhist monks in perfumed water.

Hùng Quân 12/4/14 21:19

Chol Chnam Thmay festival shows Khmer people’s aspirations, like many others ethnic groups, to forget about the old year’s misfortunes and look for a better new year.

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