Khmer New Year

Group Home Party

We had been told that Khmer New Year was the biggest celebration of the year in Cambodia. Really, we had no idea what to expect and just decided to go with the flow and see what Chaul Chnam means to the Khmer people and why these three days are so special here. Half of the children at Group Home have some form of relatives, and because family is of paramount importance in Cambodia, they left for their hometowns last week. Before they went, Lexi and I organised a party, where we tired out everybody with masses of games such as giant pictionary and a Khmer version of duck duck goose. The day was filled with never ending sweets and fizzy drinks, and some local monks came to the House to bless us all for the incoming year.

Tuesday

The first day of Khmer New Year was spent at Home trying to give the remaining children without any relatives a cause for getting excited. We decided to collaborate Easter with Khmer New Year, so we played egg and spoon races and gave out lots of mini eggs that we had been kindly sent. During the New Year, Buddhists commend giving to those in need, so a huge extended family came to Group Home and donated football kits to all of the children. Their generosity is particularly poignant as they themselves don’t own an awful lot.

Wednesday
On the second day, we took all of the children to Oudong, a beautiful mountain resort which was at its busiest and packed with celebrating families. We hired a wooden hut containing hammocks, and spent a long happy day climbing up to the mountain top temples, eating mango, wandering the many food stalls and resting with the children.

Thursday
The final day of the New Year was amazing, as Lexi and me spent the day with Mary, a friend that Lexi made in Phnom Penh. Her family lives in Kampong Chhnang and she was spending Khmer New Year with them. She is one of the loveliest people we know, and made us beautiful Cambodian dresses to wear to the Pagoda. Everybody was amazed to see us dressed traditionally, and for us it was fantastic to go to the temple when it was so busy and alive. Afterwards, Mary’s whole family (spread across a rural village) made Lexi and I feel so welcome; we were cooked a meal, shown off to a whole host of relatives, and at one point subject to the strangest experience of our lives when we were told to remove all of our clothes and sit in a field with a blanket on whilst an elderly monk sprayed us with a hose and chanted. But Cambodian generosity has really shone through and made these past few days so memorable.

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One thought on “Khmer New Year

  1. What an amazing experience for you both and more beautiful, happy photos. You have made so many Cambodian friends and it must make you both feel so proud and loved, that they want you to share their family celebrations with you, even to the kindness in making the national costume for you to wear. Another wonderful memory to add to the many others you have already of your time in Cambodia. The. Children will also have had a wonderful time enjoying all the games and attention they were given. Well done, Margaret and Gerald x

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