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Khmer New Year

The Cambodian New Year is three day celebration to mark the end of the harvest and turn of the year, according to the Khmer lunar calendar. Every home is decorated in different colors and shrines are laden with food and other offerings to god. People usually visit Buddhist temples (pagodas). Many people in Cambodia suffer from problems of disease or poverty or other obstacles to an easy life. As in western New Year celebration the Khmer New Year is seen as a time to forget the past year's hardships and look forward to a more hopeful time. Houses are symbolically cleaned and offerings of food made to monks and religious institutions. The people also buy and wear new clothes for the festival.

The first day of the festival is called Moha Sangkran, the second day Virak Vanborth and the third day Virak Lerng Sak. During this time people believe that the spirits of the old year explain their duties to the spirits of the New Year, so that the spirits of the New Year understand their responsibilities towards the world. As the New Year is born, so is the New Heaven. In token of this people prepare sacrifices, often in combinations of number that are believed to the lucky (5 candles, 7 cigarettes etc). These offering are usually presented in a Baysey, a container made from part of the banana tree. Fruit, incense, tobacco and flowers are all accepted form of offering. People light candles, incenses and pray the New Heaven will bring them joy, happiness, successful, healthy and wealthy.

On the Moha Sangkranday, as well as making offerings, people build small hills of sand around pagodas and banyan tree. In the following day people add to these sand mountains and invite monks to come and pray over them to appease the spirits of ancestors. On the morning of Virak Lerng Sak people ritually bathe the parents, grandparents in their home and statues of the Buddha at the pagodas. It is not uncommon for people to bathe the monks too, as part of the cleaning ritual. The traditional games are also played atVirak Lerng Sak. These include Teagn Proat, a game that is centuries old in Cambodia and which symbolizes the balance between good and evil in the universe. Many of the bas-relief carvings at Angkor Wat deal with the theme of opposite forces in equilibrium (look at the "Churning of the Ocean of Milk, it is a tug of war march between Good and Evil with the Hindu God Vishnu presiding over the point of balance).

Another game played at New Year is Bors-ang-kugn. The game is played with fruit of the Kugn tree (a dark, hard nut). Four piles of Kugn nuts are set in a square around a King. Teams usually consist of all men and all women, with the two genders throwing their Ang-kugn tree fruit at the opposing team's piles. It is common for a man to throw at the pile belonging to a woman, he finds attractive and vice versa. When the outer piles have been knuckle over the contestants concentrate on hitting the King. There is a painful prize awaiting the loser: the victors are permitted to hit their opponent's kneecap, Ang-kugn fruit in hand. The Cambodia New Year is also a time to perform traditional Khmer dances such as Rorm Vong, Rorm Kbach and nowadays some place they daces other mixing music style that to make tourists confuse.

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