Tuesday, April 14

Happy Khmer Day

Which is a THREE days celebration from 13th - 15th April every year.

Last saturday, i was very honored to be invited to Cambodia Khmer Day celebration in UTP.
What impressed me was the decoration of the hall. They turned the fugly boring lecture room into this beautiful hall. They told me they spent the whole day cutting and plucking the flowers all around the uni and turn in into some classy decorations.

They started the whole celebration by eating together. They prepared Cambodian food such as ginger + meat, chicken soup, some fried vegetables and some mixed spicy vegetables. I was too hungry i didn't bother to snap pictures of the food. :) I would say that the food tasted delicious and it's quite similiar to my mom's cooking. On and off, someone would come to us and Kampai(cheers) with us and they make wishes to each other.

After makan-makan, they then tell us the history of khmer day. The Emcee explain it in his own language and kind Sothearith translated beside me. Then i came back google and i found this :
The history of the Khmer New Year is closely connected to the seven signs of the zodiac for the week. The legend of the New Year is detailed in the Almanac which says: In ancient, happier times, a young man by the name of Thoamabal, the son of a tycoon, had an extensive knowledge of three Vedas (ancient books on Hinduism) by the age of seven. Thoamabal's father built a temple under the spread of a large Chrey tree (a fig tree) on the banks of a river that was home to many species of birds. He had an innate ability that enabled him to understand the languages of birds.

Thoamabal's attributes allowed him to become a layman in charge of religious ceremonies for all classes of people. Upon hearing this news another religious leader Kabel Maha Prohm, decided to challenge Thoamabal with tree riddles. He vowed that if Thaomabal could successfully answer the riddles he, Kabel Maha Prohm, would be beheaded; however if Thoamabal could not answer the riddles correctly then it would be Thoamabal who would be beheaded. Thoamabal insisted on having seven days to answer the puzzling enigma until Kabel Maha Prohm agreed.

For six days Thoamabal could not solve the problems and knew that he faced the prospect of being killed by Kabel Maha Prohm the next morning. He therefore decided ton hide himself and let his life fade away by natural causes. He hid himself beneath a pair of sugar palm trees in which a pair of eagles were nesting, that night Thoamabal overheard the eagles talking.

The female asked, "What will we eat tomorrow morning?" The male eagle replied, "We will eat the flesh of Thoamalobal because tomorrow he is going to be beheaded by Kabie Maha Prohm due to his inability to solve the riddles". The female then asked, "What are the riddles?" The male answered, "The first riddle is, where is luck to be found in the morning?" Of course the answer is that luck is on the face because people always take water to wash their faces.

The second riddle asked, where is luck located at noon? It is on the chest because people always take water to wash their chests. Finally, the third question asked, where is luck located in the evening? The answer is that luck is on the feet because people always wash their feet in the evening. Thoamabal overheard all of the conversation and so happily returned to his temple. In the morning Kabel Maha Prohm came to ask Thoamabal if he could answer the three riddles.

Thoamabal successfully answered each of the riddles. Kabel Maha Prohm had failed, called his seven daughters, who were maids of Branma, to learn of his fate.Kabal Maha Prohm said, "Your father is foing to be beheaded in front of Thoamabal. If my head is set on the earth , it will set fire to Earth, if my head is thrown into the air, the rain will evaporate, if my head is thrown into the sea, the sea will dry up. Therefore I ask you, my seven daughters to get a holy metal tray on which to set your father's head". Having said this, he beheaded himself and his head was passed to Neang Toungsa, the eldest of his daughters. She placed her father's head on the holy tray and then proceeded to walk around Mount Meru for one hour, respectfully keeping the tray on her right hand. She then took the tray to the temporary sanctuary of Phnom Kailas. At Phnom Kailas, Preah Visakam created a hall where seven holy glasses (Pheakabatei Saphea) were set. The glasses were for use by angels during ceremonies. Each year the seven angels took turns to invoke the head of Kabel Maha Prohm to and complete a holy procession around Mount Meru. Following the holy procession the angels returned to their heaven.
(sources : here)
Does Chinese New Year has any history behind it? But i know why the fire quakers are so important for chinese, because it is used to scare the monsters away. Then we will have a peaceful days. :)

Back to the celebration, we played Cambodia's traditional game called Laek Konseng. Everyone sit in a circle, then there will be someone who will be standing and holding a string-like scarf walking behind the circle. He/She then put the scarf behind someone, and that someone takes the scarf and starts to chase and hit the person seated on his/her rightside and it ends when the person seated down after running a circle. (neh, similiar to our primary school game one)

Then, they started the singing competition. I was introduced to their famous singers back at their country by their MVs. :) And the rest of us started to dance around.

i danced quite well right? >.<
One thing that i love about them is the Cambodians because they are very united and harmony. They have their traditional dances and every time they gather around during any occasions, they will dance and sing together. So nice right? In M'sia when people started to gather around all they do would be talking, playing cards, drinking, eating, mamaking! ;)

The party ended with prize giving ceremony. They gave certificates and awards to those who contributed to the club, CSAM (Cambodian Students Association in Malaysia).

Happy Khmer Day to all of you!!!

"Hi, my name is Ashlee. Thank you for inviting me to your party. This is my first time being called a foreigner in my own country!!! ", that was my introduction. ;)

I wonder if this is how the oversea students celebrate their new years when they couldn't come back for it. I could feel their eager yet loneliness feeling from their eyes, how much they want to return to their own country, be with their families and friends. But one thing i learn from the party was the seniors are very caring and loving towards the juniors, taking good care and making sure they are being well treated. This is a family for me!

5 comments:

  1. waaa..... didnt invite me...

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  2. hehe.. u wrote it so well.. hehe.. kinda feel so touching yet happy.. hehe.. glad to have u there with us at that time.. :D hehe.. Happy new year ne!!

    PS. where do u get the photo from?

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  3. thanks neh!! glad that SOTHEARITH invited me!!!!!!!!!!!!:P

    happy new year ne~

    from your blog lah! haha
    but i still want the softcopy of all the pics taken that night okay?

    ReplyDelete
  4. u do? get it from me later then.. hehe...

    ReplyDelete