Fortunetellers: Expect Political Conflict, Rain

Pok Khol held a deck of cards above smoldering incense sticks, as dusk rolled across Phnom Penh and the riverfront came alive with fortunetellers and fortune seekers.

After three passes through the in­­cense smoke, Pok Khol spread the cards in an arc and began the complicated process of forecasting the year ahead, which will start with the Khmer New Year this weekend.

Prominent in the 51-year-old for­­tuneteller’s prediction were money and politics.

“More rain will come at the end of the year; there will be better rice and fruit crops. The year will be calmer,” Pok Khol said.

Though the country will appear more stable, political infighting will continue behind the scenes, pos­sibly coming to an unexpected head by the end of the year, she said.

Anyone prone to generosity must be careful lending money this year, and those born in the Year of the Dog shouldn’t lend money at all, she added.

Fortunetellers agreed this week that the average person will enjoy more success, happiness and personal safety this year than in years past. But they warned the country would still be mired in political conflict.

At the Buddhist Institute on Tues­day morning, Miech Ponn, an expert in Buddhist traditions, ex­plained how predictions for the New Year are crafted.

At the heart of the year’s fortune is the arrival of the New Year’s Devada, the divinity that watches over the country for one year, he said.

According to traditional Cam­bo­dian belief, which combines aspects of Buddhism and Hin­du­ism, each of the seven Devadas—daughters of the Buddhist deity Kabil Mohaprom—have different per­sonalities and attributes. They dominate the mood and luck of the nation.

This year’s Devada, Kemira­te­vi, will arrive on earth at exactly 6:48 am Friday, riding a buffalo, eat­ing bananas and wielding a sword to protect the people, Miech Ponn said.

Because she represents strength of spirit, her reign will he­r­ald a wetter rainy season than average, which will lead to higher-than-average crop yields—es­pecially for rice and bananas.

A lotus tucked behind the De­vada’s ear represents beauty and gentle femininity, ushering peace in­to the country. She will unseat this year’s Devada, who some have held responsible for the three Cam­bodian deaths from  bird flu in the last 12 months.

The current Devada’s food of choice, gasoline, is also blamed for the blaze of fighting between po­litical parties, the tensions that led to prominent activists being jailed and, unsurprisingly, the rising cost of gasoline.

But the problems with money and politics in the year ahead, said fortuneteller Vay Vibol, come not from the benevolent Kemira­te­vi, but from the forces brought by the Year of the Dog, which be­gan in late January.

While regular people will have more stable lives and better luck under Kemiratevi’s watch, the Year of the Dog will also bring extremes.

“Whoever is good is very good. Whoever is bad is very bad,” Vay Vibol said, explaining that those who work hard will reap enormous gains, and those who are la­zy will not be spared. He also said that Cambodians can expect some political unrest, based on events in 1994, the last Year of the Dog. “Twelve years ago, dog was not a good sign.”

“It will start with political problems and internal troublemaking,” Vay Vibol said. But whatever the New Year brings, individuals have the power to change their own luck, he added.

“Buddha says good luck de­pends on feeling and mind,” he said. “If you think good things, you will say good things. If you say good things, you will do good things. When you do good things, good luck comes to you,” Vay Vibol said. “You can change any bad luck.”




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