A three-day celebration after the end of harvest to mark the turn of The New Year according to the Khmer lunar calendar. Every home is seen with attractive decorations. shrines are full of food and beverages given as offerings to God.
During the Khmer New Year Festival, youths gather to play popular traditional games such as Chaol Chhoung (throwing a ball) and Bas Angkunh (throwing brown seeds). The youths are normally divided into female and male teams to play these games.
It is culturally celebrated to alert the nation of the commencement of rainy season, and farmers to be ready for farming rice by starting to plough. The venue is a field at a wing of Royal Palace, Phnom Penh. The scene is interesting as it depicts real ploughing activities where cows are given a variety of crops to eat. Based on the choices of crops eaten by the cows, prediction are made for the coming cultivation and cropping year.
The Royal Ploughing ceremony, or Pithi Chrat Preah Neanng Korl in Khmer, and the Festival of Water and full Moon Salutation, know as Pithi Bonn Om Touk and Ak Ambok Sampeah preah Kher in Khmer, are such ceremonies. Predictions gleaned from these traditional ceremonies for the coming year are taken very seriously.
Not only it marks the reversing flow of Tonle Sap River but also ushers in the fishing season.
The Highlight of the event is boat races over three days. As night falls, fireworks light the sky and a lighted flotilla of boats sail under full moon to whom household worships.
Some analysts say the celebration is also a thanksgiving to the Mekong River for providing the country with fertile land. People from all walks of life gather on the bank of the Mekong River for days and nights.
In the pre-dawn twilight, a solemn bell tolls from deep within the temple. Nasal chants, hypnotic and entrancing, drift through the early morning mist.
This is the soundtrack to Pchum Ben, arguably Cambodia's most important religious festival. The chants are blessings from ordained monks, a moral poem cautioning all of the dangers of greed and wickedness. Those who commit evil will become malevolent spirits called Tum Nounh Bret (usually shortened to Bret), relentlessly roaming in search of sustenance, the monks warn. The dirge, broadcast from temple loudspeakers and by radio stations, marks the beginning of each of the fifteen days of Pchum Ben, and is respected and feared in equal measures.