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Festivities for the coming of Khmer New Year around our hotels and resorts. Happy Year of the Dragon!

by Living Cambodia Team, 13 Apr. 2024

Khmer New Year បុណ្យចូលឆ្នាំខ្មែរ ["celebration of entry into the year"] marks the beginning of the year in the solar calendar (also celebrated in parts of India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Laos and Thailand) and the end of the harvesting season, with several traditions expressing the Cambodian identity, such as the visit on earth of one of the seven tevodas (angels-goddesses) during the first night of the 3-day festivities.

Dance is an integral part of the festivities, starting with the timeless Trot dance (Robam Trot), an energetic pantomime involving dancers impersonating angels, hunters and wild animals - the peacock has been added in modern times to this ancestral village dance originating from the hilly areas near Tonle Sap Lake and from the Surin region, now in Thailand but inhabited by Khmer. The seasonal dance of yore, performed by Khmer, Por, Suoy and Samre villagers, is called "trot", a Sanskrit name meaning "conclusion, epilogue" of the harvesting months.

Recently, the Trot dance has been adopted by urban Cambodians, and its colorful costumes and joyful choreography is a staple of Phnom Penh streetlife at that time of the year. On April 12 and 13, dancers came to Aquation Office Park (photos below: 1,2), DIB Club, Pavilion (5,6) and White Mansion (7,8) in Phnom Penh, Templation Angkor Resort (3,4 and main photo: arrival of trot dancers, 13 April 2024) in Siem Reap, for the great pleasure of hotel guests and Cambodian team members.

After the definitely rural and energetic Trot dance, it has become customary to add a performance of Robam Chun Por (Blessing Dance), a graceful choreography initially conceived by Queen Kossamak - HM King Sihamoni's grandmother - for the Royal Ballet of Cambodia. Dancers clad in the Apsara costume present bowls with water and flower petals to the people in attendance. (below at White Mansion (photos 1,2 below) and Pavilion (photos 3,4))

Princess Buppha Devi Dance School Greeting Card: សួស្តីឆ្នាំថ្មី "Hello, New Year!". Several dancers from the school graced our celebrations with their participation.

Yet there will be much more opportunities to dance during the three days of celebration: Moha Sangkrant, with candle lighting, homage to the Buddha statues and teachings, Veareak Vanabat, where acts of charity to the poor and dedication ceremonies to the ancestors take place, and Veareak Laeung Sak, dedicated to purification with water.

Even more than in all other Cambodian celebrations, religious activities go together with dancing in pagodas or at home, along with engaging in many traditional games.

for Khmer New Year, each household sets up an altar with offerings -- displaying banana branches, fruit, flowers, grains, soft drinks, incense, sweets, make-up and hand mirror -- to the ancestors and to the visiting tevoda (this year, Mahathareak Tevy, the seventh angel-goddess) [above, at White Mansion Hotel and Templation Angkor Resort].

The period before entering in the new year is highly propicious to team events, in recognition to the collective energy put together. At MAADS-branded operations and partners, numerous parties were held these last days, including White Mansion Team Party (photos below, row 1), Penh House and Jungle Addition Team Get-Together (row 2), and Templation Annual Party - dress theme this year was the golden 1960s - (row 3):

Year 2568 of the Dragon, one of the 12 animals of the Cambodian zodiac

bamboo golden dragon set this year at Wat Phnom gardens, Phnom Penh (photos Khmer Times)