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New Year Hopes

New Year Hopes

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

all."

"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

land."

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

added.

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