The Khmer New Year 2014 lasts for three days, beginning on 14-15 and 16 April 2014 which is the end of the harvesting season. It is very hot in April. Throughout the Khmer New Year, the Khmer citizens living in Phnom Penh and provincial cities and towns are leaving for their native home villages to enjoy meeting friends and families. Phnom Penh is empty, almost without traffic.
A few days before the New Year, the people prepare food, clean their houses, buy some new clothes and so on. When the New Year's Day comes, they prepare something such as a ceremonial ornament made with a banana tree trunk bake, some flowers and some fruits to welcome and sacrifice to the new angel.
Now back to our residents at AFESIP centers: some residents of the 3 centers leave for the homes to celebrate the New Year and some are not, because they want to enjoy with the staff who would take them elsewhere for the trips. Of course AFESIP center staff including center managers, care takers, are not on leave as they have to take the residents for the trips. All the centers arrange the schedules for 3 days, finding the best resorts in order to comfort those who miss to see their families. The pagoda is one of the many targets they want to visit. The residents dress up new traditional clothes, hands with candles and joss-sticks and others with food and go to the pagodas in the morning to pray for ancestors.
Kien Svay District, Kandal Chamkar Leu District, Kompong Cham
Tomdy Center took the residents to Kul Totung Pagoda of Kien Svay District, Kandal Province, about 30km from Phnom Penh to offer food to the monks, enjoyed having lunch there and returned to the center the same day, on the second day, went to Phnom Penh Thmey Pagoda at Chamkar Leu District, Kompong Cham Province to offer food to a hundred monks, meeting a group of Somaly House children and staff there. Whereas at Siem Reap center, the residents enjoyed their festive day trips around a number of historic temples.
The residents also played some traditional games such as the hand-scarf-throwing game, they kick the nuts game, the tug of war game. They also danced in the evening until late at night.