People all over the world have different ways of marking their respective New Year celebrations depending on beliefs and traditions. The Cambodians have a unique way of celebrating with their traditional Water Splashing Ceremony called Sraung Preach.
Khmer New Year, or ‘Bon Chol Chhnam Thmei’ in the Khmer language, is the greatest traditional festival and national holiday in Cambodia. Khmer New Year, which lasts three days, starts on April the 13th, 14thor 15th, depending on the ancient horoscope “Maha Sangkran”. The majority of Cambodians are still farmers and Khmer New Year marks the end of the harvest season when farmers enjoy the fruits of their labor and can relax before the start of the rainy season.
The climax of the festival is reserved for water splashing. On that day, the Dai put on their newest and best clothes and then assemble at the local Buddhist temple, where the monks chant Buddhist scriptures. Afterward, a symbolic water splashing ritual is enacted whereby a Buddha statues first coaxed out of the temple to the courtyard with full pomp and circumstance. It is then is splashed with water in a ritual called ‘Bathing the Buddha’.
The completion of the ‘Bathing the Buddha’ ritual serves as the signal that encourages ordinary mortals to engage in mutual water splashing. Accordingly, this is when people flock to the streets with pots, pans, bottles, or whatever, where they uninhibitedly splash, spray and douse each other with water, with the same gusto which Westerners engage in a good snowball free-for-all. The act of pouring water is also a show of blessings and good wishes. It is believed that on this Water Festival, everything old must be thrown away, or it will bring the owner bad luck.
The Water Splashing ceremony, however, is more than just good-natured fun; it also contains a religious element. Water is regarded by the Dai as a symbol, firstly, of religious purity, but also of goodwill among people. Therefore, splashing a fellow human being with water, whether a close neighbor or a fellow villager, or even a stranger, is an expression of the desire for good luck and prosperity to that person.
The Water Splashing Festival is attracting an increasing number of tourists every year. In order to participate in the Water Splashing Festival and make it a memorable experience, Heritage Line is honored to take you to the country of Golden Temples to learn more about the unique culture of the Cambodian people.
For more information on our company, ships and immersive cultural river experiences, please visit our website at www.heritage-line.com.