Happy Khmer New Year


Wat Toul Tompong, Phnom Penh

Cambodia’s New Year is an altogether more gentle affair than Thailand’s New Year celebrations. Here a Buddha is carefully washed by a devotee. This will happen 100s of times over the course of the day.

Water pistols and throwing water, a major part of the Thai’s festivities, is banned from central Phnom Penh.


A woman releases birds at Wat Toul Tompong. The act of setting the birds free is seen as a way of making merit. In reality however, these birds will be caught, caged and ‘set free’ again and again. It’s a decent money-spinner for the vendors and probably the temple gets a cut, too. The practice is now banned in some Thai temples.


Waiting for ‘freedom’ at Wat Toul Tompong


Giving blessings



The poor, the homeless and the disabled flock to Cambodia’s temples during the New Year. To make merit Cambodians drop small notes into the hats, hands and cups of the less fortunate and some worrying aggressive young children.




This young girl dropped a small note into each one of the boxes. Khmer New Year is an important fund-raising time for Cambodian Temples.


7 thoughts on “Happy Khmer New Year

  1. Pingback: Happy Khmer New Year (Day 3) | cambodian beginnings

  2. Pingback: Happy Khmer New Year | cambodian beginnings

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