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Cambodian Students in BHU Celebrated Khmer New Year with International Friends, 2012

International Friends of Cambodia, Praying Hall, Cambodian Flat, BHU, Varanasi, 14 April 2012. Photo: KNT Diary

Opening Remark by Vice President of CSA-Varanasi


Prof. Millickarjun Joshi, 
Dr V.K. Chandola,
Dr (Miss) Sangeeta Pandit,
Shri P. Jacob,
Distinguished participants,
Ladies and Gentlemen

On behalf of Cambodian Students and on my personal behalf, it is a great pleasure for me to welcome Prof. Millickarjun Joshi Administrative Warden IHC, Dr V.K. Chandola Warden IHC, Dr. (Miss) Sangeeta Pandit Warden International House Annexe, Shri P. Jacob Sr. Asstt., on this auspicious occasion of Khmer New Year Ceremony.

I also extend my warm welcome to Most Venerable monks, distinguished participants, fellow students, ladies and gentlemen. I am so glad that so many special people have been able to join us on this occasion.

We, Cambodian students under the generous leadership of Ven. Phra Maha Songkram, have been successfully celebrating Khmer New Year ceremony every year with the august presence of our Chief Guest, Prof. Mallickarjun Joshi and invited guests from different countries. On this memorable occasion, we would like to extend our willing to establish closer relations with the people who are joining us today. As students here in BHU, informally, we are representatives of Cambodian government who play the role of being people-to-people diplomatic relations.

Distinguished Guests, Khmer New Year Hall, Cambodian Flat, BHU, Varanasi, 14 April 2012. Photo: KNT Diary

Chief guests, Most Venerable monks, distinguished participants, fellow students, ladies and gentlemen; Cambodia is one of the most suffering countries from civil wars for the last few decades. We had experienced much about the suffering from wars and genocide, now we are celebrating Khmer New Year, it means not only that one more year to come, but also that praying for world peace and strengthening close tie with various friends belonging to different countries. 

"The suffering of Cambodia has been deep,” to quote Ven. Maha Ghosanada. “From this suffering comes Great Compassion. Great Compassion makes a Peaceful Heart. A Peaceful Heart makes a Peaceful Person. A Peaceful Person makes a Peaceful Family. A Peaceful Family makes a Peaceful Community. A Peaceful Community makes a Peaceful Nation. A Peaceful Nation makes a Peaceful World. May all beings live in Happiness and Peace."

Chief guests, Most Venerable monks, distinguished participants, fellow students, ladies and gentlemen; on every occasion, I can never forget to express my grateful attitude towards the great founder of Banaras Hindu University, Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya. I have the honour to quote his message of hope and prayer that, 

It is my earnest hope and prayer that this centre of life and light which is coming into existence, will produce students who will not only be intellectually equal to the best of their fellow students in other parts of the world, but will also live a noble life, love their country and be loyal to the Supreme ruler.

Thank you for your kind attention. And thank you again for coming. Let's capture some magical moments, let's create happy memories and let's surround ourselves with laughter and friendship as we celebrate this special occasion.


HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Khath Bunthorn

Vice President of CSA-Varanasi

[Editted for clarification]

Key Address by President of CSA-Varanasi


Ven. Lun Chamnan, President of CSA-Varanasi, delivering an address to the international participants, Cambodian Flat, Varanasi, 14 April 2012. Photo: KNT Diary

Respectfully,

Prof. Mallickarjun Joshi, Admin. Warden of the IHC, Dr. V.K Chandola, Dr.(Miss) Sangeetapandit warden of IHC…. Dear venerables, nuns, brothers and sisters and all the distinguish guests. On behalf of Cambodian students as well as on my behalf we warmly welcome you all and we would like to address our profound thanks and gratitude to you for taking your time to be with us in the auspicious occasion of Khmer New Year festival celebrating in IHC today. Now before we begin the following programme let me briefly present The Traditional Khmer New Year.

In Cambodia, Khmer New Year is the greatest traditional festival, and also it is the greatest national holiday because it is three days of festival and sometimes can be four days. Khmer New Year begins on April 13th depending on the "MohaSangkran," which is the ancient horoscope.

In fact, Khmer New Year originally began on the first day of the first month in lunar calendar, which can be in November or the beginning of December.

In the Angkor Era, the 13th Century, the Khmer King, either “Suriyavaraman II” or “Jayavaraman VII”, was the one who changed the New Year to the fifth month of the lunar calendar, in April by the solar calendar. 80% of Khmer population is farmer, and the period from November through March is the busiest season for Khmer farmers to reap or harvest the crops from the rice fields.

Therefore, April is the right time for Khmer in Cambodia to celebrate New Year. The Khmer New Year festival originated from “Bramhmanism”, a part of Hinduism, which was a religion that Khmer believed in before Buddhism. Later on Buddhism became associated with the festival and then took all the important roles in the festivity.
Buddhist rituals, Praying Hall, Cambodian Flat, BHU, Varanasi, 14 April 2012. Photo: KNT Diary

Usually, Khmer New Year is celebrated for three days:

The first day of New Year (Year 2556 of the Buddhist calendar) is called as “Moha Sangkran”, and it can be described simply as the inauguration of the New Angels or divinity who come to take care the world for a one-year period. 

This year is the year of Dragon, and “Moha Sangkran” of the New Year has began on April 13th at 7:00 PM. The leader of Angels or divinities is named “Kemira”.

People need to clean and decorate the house and also prepare fruits and drinks for the New Year inauguration and to welcome the New Angels or divinities at every single home.

The preparatory festival paraphernalia and food offerings are used to satisfy the divinity that will come to power. The offerings are organized according to an ancient Khmer myth and legend known as “Samkranti Sot.” For example, if the divinity coming to power is known to consume blood offerings, each family will prepare something which symbolizes blood, like some red flowers or fruit for him/her. If another divinity is known to consume various kinds of offerings, like bean or sesame grains, they will offer him/her the real ones. And this year the divinities consume bannanas. The arrival of each divinity is forecast by a group of astrologers and publicized on the radio and television.

Actually, in the morning at the first day of New Year, most Khmer people prepare food to offer the monks at Khmer temple to get blessed. Elderly people like to meditate or pray the Dharma at that time because they believe that any angel who comes to their houses at that time will stay with them and take care of their family for the whole year.

For their parts, State leaders read New Year messages to welcome the New Year and extended good wishes to their countrymen wishing each and everyone a Very Happy and Prosperous Year of the Dragon. It is the day when the sun enters a new sign of the zodiac.

There were many interesting moments during the Khmer New Year celebrations. People would pray to their ancestors and ceremoniously wash statues or figurines of the Buddha to receive blessings of happiness and good health. This is also believed to gain merits for curing skin diseases and to ensure beauty in the next reincarnation.
Buddhist monks from Thailand, Burma and Srilanka are invited for special lunch on Khmer New Year, Cambodian Flat, BHU, Varanasi, 14 April 2012. Photo: KNT Diary

The second day of New Year is called as "Wanabot", which means day of offering gifts to the parents, grandparents and elders. Usually, Khmer People like to share gifts or presents to employees and also donate money or clothes to poor people. In the evening, people go to temple to build a mountain of sand and ask the monks to give them a blessing of happiness and peace.

From this day, It is a great time for boys and girls to play traditional games together such as Bos Angkunh, Chol Chhoung, … or tug-of-water etc. at the temple or any fields or playground in their village because it is only at the New Year time that boys and girls are allowed to play or to get together.

The most popular dance was still the "Roam Vong" although they performed other folklore and popular dances day in and day out and sometimes into the wee hours of the night as well.

Also, it is a wonderful time for single people to search for the special partner to get married in the future. In some provinces, they play the game of marriage. The groom and the bride come from the same district or sometimes from the different location. Their parents and relatives join this ceremony and bless them. After marriage, the couple could decide to live together or not.

The third day is called as day of "Leung Sakk;" that means the year starts to be counted up from this day, for example, the year of 2011 begins to be 2012 the year of 2555 BC becomes 2556 BC...etc. Traditionally, in the morning, we used to go to the temple or pagoda to perform the ceremony of the mountain of sand to get blessed.

The children take to the streets to drench passers-by with water. People on the receiving end took the drenching in good spirit and generally enjoyed it as much as the children who did it out of mischief more than the well-intended blessings the symbolic cleansing which the throwing of water is meant to be.

In the evening, to complete the New Year festival, our Khmer people need to perform the last ceremony, called as "Pithi Srang Preah", which means giving a special bath or a special shower to Buddha statues, the monks, elders, parents, grand parents to apologize for any mistake we have done to them and to gratify them.

Everyone must have a wonderful time during this ceremony because it is a great opportunity for everyone, young and old, man and woman to have much fun by spreading out water to each other.

Venerables, nuns, Ladies and gentlemen, today we, Cambodian students are very privilege to celebrate the annual Khmer New Year on the holly land, especially in the IHC of BHU. Once again On behalf of Cambodian Students and on my behalf, we would like to take our time to express our deep thanks and gratitude to the relevant authorities of BHU allowing us to celebrate such a wonderful festival. And especially many thanks to our chief guest, venerable, nuns, brother and sisters for being with us today. May the year of Dragon bring you happiness, good health, prosperities and success in your life. Thank you!

Ven. Lun Chamnan

President of CSA-Varanasi

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