More than 1.3 million Khmer ethnic people in the Mekong Delta celebrated their traditional festival this week, Chol Chnam Thmay, which lasted from April 14-16.
Chol Chnam Thmay is also the new year festival celebrated by people from Laos, Cambodia, Brunei and Thailand.
For Khmer people, Chol Chnam Thmay is not only a new year festival but also a celebration of the end of the dry season before the beginning of the new rainy season and a new crop.
The three-day festival includes many rituals. On the first day of celebration (called Chol Sangkraan Thma), villagers dress up and bring offerings to the local temples for the mahasangkran procession ceremony and say the prayer for a new year.
On the second day, called Wonbof, the families offer food to monks and build a hillock of sand in front of the temples to pray for good weather and a bumper harvest.
The villagers prepare water and fresh flowers and then attend the Buddha bathing ceremony in the temples on the last day called Lom Sak.
In addition to important rituals, young people play folk games, including splashing water, blindfolding, pot smashing and bag jumping.
Many provinces in the Mekong Delta with large Khmer communities, like Sóc Trăng, Tra Vinh, Vĩnh Long or Bạc Lieu, held many activities and traditional art performances to celebrate Chol Chnam Thmay this year.
However, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, many rituals in the temples were simplified to minimise gatherings while the festival participants were told to wear face masks and wash their hands with sanitiser. VNS
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