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Khmer New Year

Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei

The first day is called Moha Songkran

Belief is that a new angel or god will protect them throughout the coming year.

Families clean their houses and decorate with incense sticks and offerings of fruits, flowers, and cans of coke left in the spirit house that guards the entrance to homes, normally a small shrine that is placed outside the house in the garden or land.

They give offerings during the year to keep away evil spirits.

( Cambodians are very big believers on spiritual things and ghosts)

Disturbing a place where ghosts are said to live, is a bad omen and should be avoided at all costs.

The second day is called Wanabat

Which is the day for giving, where parents receive gifts and so do elders in the villages, children also receive new clothes and the older ones are donated to the poor.

Because I was staying in one of the provinces we all headed to the local pagoda where people sought blessings from the monks.

In the grounds of the pagoda, they hung ceramic pots on a string above head height and people queued up to be blindfolded and walk towards the pots.

If they can swing a stick and smash the pot they win the contents.

Which are normally coins, toothbrushes and other little gifts which the surrounding children rush to grab before you can take your blindfold off.

If successful you are normally given some money, but win or not it is always good fun as you cannot see what you are doing.

Any help you get by a Cambodian in charge or a friend ( if you don’t understand Khmer) is normally drowned out by the noise of the crowd cheering you.


The last day is called Tanai Lieang Saka

Which means new beginning, people visit the monks again for a blessing before enjoying celebrations with the family either at home or by going to neighboring places such as the local islands for the day.

Rabbit Island is the nearest to us and is inundated with the local families going for either a day trip or overnight, see my post on Koh Tonsai

Great enjoyment whether you see all the days or just celebrate one day, families meet for maybe the only time during the year, as many live away from homes due to working in the large cities, where they can earn more money.


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