In Khmer mythology, Tevoda is a Buddhist god who possesses all the magical power
of heaven and earth. Each year Tevoda is represented by a different animal which
also comes to characterize the year of a person's birth. This new year marks the
2537th year of the Buddhist religion and the arrival of the Year of the Cock (Tevoda
Chhnam Roka) and an end to the Year of the Monkey (Tevoda Chhnam Vok) which passed
at 10 p.m. on Apr. 13.
New Year is the main traditional festival and most popular vacation of Cambodians.
It is celebrated throughout the country each April, in the middle of the hot season
when the temperature sometimes reaches 40 degrees during day time. However, this
does not stop anybody, be they farmers or civil servants enjoying the holiday.
People say that during this period they must restrain all feelings of anger and violence
which would otherwise spoil their celebration. Tables decorated with flowers, candles
and incense sticks are moved to the front doors and set with dishes of food, fruit
and two glasses of water to welcome the new Tevoda and also to pay respects to deceased
relatives. Laughter and loud music are heard almost everywhere in the city as young
adults and elderly play traditional games and dance right on the side-walks.
Colorful flags flutter in Buddhist temples. In the morning, the people, young and
old, celebrate the New Year at temples by offering gifts and food to the Buddhist
monks. Building hills of sand in the temple compound is proscribed as an act to get
rid of all bad kharma, whereas building hills of rice is believed to prolong life
because rice is a main staple for Cambodians.
Chan Ly, 65, said "I am very happy to celebrate the new year because I can see
the light of peace. I pray to Buddha and Tevoda to help bring Khmers who have different
thoughts together in order to put an end to our children's suffering once and for
"I pray for peace. Khmers have fought each other enough," said 62-year-old
Kuy Vouch. "If Khmers don't be too selfish, I think peace will emerge on our
Chap Sivon, 47, has given birth to 17 children. Eight of them died during the Pol
Pot regime. She and the rest of her children came to Ounnalom Pagoda to celebrate
the new year.
"I am happy to celebrate the new year and dedicate my offerings to my parents
and children who have died," she said. "I never forget them at all, but
I want to build a new hope for my life as well. There is no more point for Khmers
to kill each other. I pray Tevoda to help to bring peace and prosperity," she