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Culture in Festivals

   Cambodian New Year

The Cambodian New Year takes place from April 13th -15th, during the dry season when farmers do not work in the fields. Astrologers determine the exact time and date by calculating the exact moment the new animal protector (tiger, dragon, or snake) arrives. Cambodians spend the entire month of April in preparation for the celebration, cleaning and decorating their house with candles, lights, star shaped lanterns and flowers. During the first three days, everyone travels to the pagodas to offer food to the monks.

   Pchum Ben
Pchum Ben is a religious ceremony in September when everyone remembers the pirit of dead relatives. For fifteen days, people in Cambodian villages take turns bringing food to the temples or pagodas. On the fifteenth and final day, everyone dresses in their finest clothing to travel together to
the pagodas. Families bring overflowing baskets of flowers, and children offer food and presents to the monks. Everyone says prayers to help their ancestors pass on to a better life. According to Khmer belief, those who do not follow the practices of Pchum Ben are cursed by their angry ancestors.
   Day of Hatred

Cambodia must be one of the only countries in the world which has a holiday called the "Day of Hatred!" This was a holiday in May which was created by the People's Republic of Kampuchea and the State of Cambodia as a national holiday to remember the crimes of Pol Pot and his regime. Therefore, the government tried to change this fear and resentment into an annual "Day of Hatred" in which the crimes of Pol Pot were remembered in ceremonies at village cemeteries and Tuol Sleng (the Khmer Rouge torture center). However, although this is still a public holiday, most people do not think of it as a holiday to think about hatred!

   Weddings

Weddings are the most important social events in the lives of young people. Men usually get married between the ages of nineteen and twenty-four and women between the ages of sixteen and twenty-two. Most families want their children to be married by the age of twenty-five, otherwise other people might wonder why the family is unable to find people willing to marry their children!! There are traditional ways in which a family should decide if a partner is suitable or not. Each family appoints a representative to investigate the other family who makes sure that the other family is honest and, hopefully, wealthy. Once the two families agree to the wedding, they exchange gifts of plants and food and then they consult an astrologer who chooses a lucky date for the ceremony. The wedding ceremony takes place at the bride's house. The bride and groom exchange gifts and rings. Their wrists are tied together with red thread that has been soaked in holy water. A Buddhist priest delivers a sermon, and married guests pass around a candle to bless the new couple. After the ceremony, there is a grand feast. People eat fruit, meat, and small round cakes filled with rice or coconut. Musicians play traditional instruments like the ones seen in this unit's figurine collection.

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