Bloodthirsty Angel to Ring in New Year, for Better or Worse

A bloodthirsty angel will arrive in Cambodia on Tuesday, bringing unexpected deaths, a spike in fires and high rice prices, according to the country’s official New Year’s almanac.

Released every year since 1998 by the Ministry of Cults and Religion, the almanac offers weather predictions, horoscopes and useful advice for those making big decisions.

Fortune-teller Pil Sothy reads a customer's cards in her stand in Phnom Penh's Boeng Keng Kang market Monday. (Matt Walker)
Fortune-teller Pil Sothy reads a customer’s cards in her stand in Phnom Penh’s Boeng Keng Kang market Monday. (Matt Walker)

It also explains the character and preferences of the New Year’s angel, or devada, who this year is known as Reakjasa Devi and has a penchant for drinking blood.

“When I predicted for 2015, I saw that the sun is red, which means that in the country, there will be many fires throughout the year…. The economy and crop yields will remain stable, but there will be an increase in the price of rice,” said Im Borin, research director at the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals and author of the Moha Sankran almanac.

Mr. Borin, who claims to have predicted important events such as the 2000 attack on the Ministry of Defense and Council of Ministers by the Cambodian Freedom Fighters, said good luck this year would come to those capable of resisting temptation.

“I recommend people abstain from five things: harming living beings, stealing, sexual misconduct, drinking alcohol and gambling. If people keep far from such misconduct, good luck will come to them.”

For those planning to tie the knot this year, the almanac offers a mathematical formula to determine whether the marriage will succeed.

Add the ages of the man and woman who are planning to wed and divide the result by three, it instructs. If the remainder is 1, the marriage can go ahead; if the remainder is 2, the marriage will be a good one; but if the remainder is zero, “the marriage is absolutely prohibited because they will separate shortly afterward.”

The almanac also tells believers exactly how to receive Reakjasa Devi, who will arrive to replace last year’s devada at 2 p.m. Tuesday, bearing a trident and bow and riding a horse.

“You should offer two bottles of perfume, five candles, five incense sticks, five vases of flowers, bananas, 11 types of fruits and two glasses of water,” it states.

But predictions vary on what exactly Reakjasa Devi will bring. In an incense-filled section of Boeng Keng Kang market last week, Pil Sothy, 51, who has been predicting the future since she was 18, said she disagreed with many of the predictions in the Moha Sangkran almanac. According to Ms. Sothy, Reakjasa Devi’s thirst for blood was not a negative trait, but a sign of strength.

“I think it will make Cambodian people more happy than last year because she drinks blood, so it means people will be stronger and more prosperous in their businesses. The angel will make them powerful,” Ms. Sothy said.

In a neighboring stall, 51-year-old Chhit Mom, who claims to have foretold the Koh Pich island bridge stampede that killed 353 people in 2010, said a spirit enters her body and speaks to her about what the future holds.

Ms. Mom warned people to be extra cautious this year, as Reakjasa Devi will not protect them from death.

“A lot of people will die, and the angel cannot protect us because she drinks blood. People will have to be more friendly with each other and resolve their problems by talking, because there will be no angel looking out for them.”

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Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that the Moha Sankran almanac says the new devada will arrive riding a goat. According to the almanac, she will ride in on a horse.

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