Happy Khmer New Year!
Many times over the years Catholics have come to me wondering what to do with old, sometimes damaged, religious objects they no longer want. Maybe it’s just old palm from last year’s Palm Sunday, or maybe it’s a rosary broken into three pieces, or maybe it’s a saint’s statue with the head broken off. All of these things, what the church calls sacramentals, become part of our religious environment. And sometimes they take on a much bigger role, almost like something magical.
For Catholics I’d say just be respectful in a minimalist way. If it’s an old statue, wrap it in an old rag and smash it with a hammer and then put it in the rubbish. That’s better than throwing it out with old watermelon rinds and beer cans after a summer picnic.
The Buddhists seem to have similar qualms and anxieties about disposing of old objects used in Buddhist spirituality, e.g., old spirit houses or holders of various kinds of offerings. Near many wats (Buddhist pagodas), especially on the back side, people dump old spirit houses, household shrines for ancestors, and other devotional objects–not wanting to offend the ancestors or spirits but also wanting to get rid of no longer useful objects.
Previous posts about coffee in Cambodia have shown how coffee and the coffee shops have been introduced into the kingdom and now are an established presence. Click here to see photos of some of the franchises that are now operating in Phnom Penh, confirming that the market is real and maturing.
The Lunar (Chinese) New Year was February 12th but there are still plenty of remnants of the holiday decorations still around Phnom Penh. Many stores and other establishments still have their doorway decorations.
The colorful new year flower arrangements are the most perishable of the decorations and many have found their way to the trash, but a surprising number still grace the fronts of stores and homes.
Today is the last of the three days of major celebration for the Lunar/Chinese/Tet new year. Click here to see some scenes and notes from this year’s celebration.
Today is New Year’s Eve in the lunar calendar and for the people in the chopsticks countries, the reunion dinner this evening is one of the most important happenings of the year. In non-pandemic times, everyone MUST return home for the meal together.
This is a Khmer-Chinese family next door to the DDP office compound. They are well-to-do by Cambodian standards. As I was going home this afternoon, they were arranging parts of their dinner (the roast pig) and offerings to their ancestors (the paper houses and car and the beer and soft drinks and fruit and incense). And they were well decked out in their traditional red outfits for this glorious night!
You know the lunar new year is getting close when people start to put out their chrysanthemums. You can’t do that too early because they will bloom and fade before the holiday. Click here to see some of the early arrivals.
The Lunar New Year (most commonly called the Chinese New Year in the U.S.) will begin on February 12th this year. Click here to see some of the preparations for the festival that are starting to appear.