New Year Prophecies: Angel, Bananas and War

In the new year, Cambodia is either set for war, flooding and famine—or bumper banana yields and political harmony.

Two vastly different fortunes have been prophesied for the country in the annual Moha Songkran almanac, compiled each year by the Cults and Religion Ministry.

A sign wishing people a “Happy New Year of the Rooster” outside of Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh on Tuesday, as the city starts preparations to celebrate Khmer New Year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The almanac, first published by the ministry in 1998, contains a trove of information gleaned by tracking the movement of the stars and planets using ancient formulas.

This year, the almanac starkly predicts heavy flooding, the onset of war and the loss of half of Cambodia’s rice fields due to ravenous insects.

Astrologer Im Borin, who authored the almanac, said that though war was foreseen, he could not predict when it would begin.

“I don’t know. It is uncertain,” said Mr. Borin, who is also the research director at the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals.

It is not all gloom and doom, however. The almanac also contains a description of the New Year angel, Kemera Devi, who, it is told, will descend on the country on Friday morning at 3:12 a.m., bringing with her hopes for a bounty of bananas and peaceful political dialogue.

According to the almanac, the angel will appear holding a “royal sword” in her right hand and a harp in her left hand while riding on the back of a buffalo.

King Norodom Sihamoni, right, greets Prime Minister Hun Sen after arriving from China to Phnom Penh International Airport yesterday ahead of Khmer New Year. (Siv Channa/The Cambodia Daily)

The sword, the almanac says, is a weapon of self-protection to be used in enclosed places, while the harp represents psychology and an argument about ideas.

It is therefore predicted that political dialogue in Cambodia will be amicable next year, and more a meeting of minds than a clashing of swords.

“We can say it is a war of words rather than using weapons,” the almanac says.

Lor Reaksmey, spokesman for the Agriculture Ministry, said that according to the predictions, the angel loves to eat bananas, which means there will be a good yield of the crop.

Mr. Reaksmey said, however, that he was not totally convinced of the veracity of the almanac’s claims.

“Regarding this prediction, we have not considered it as the truth yet,” he said.

CPP spokesman Sok Eysan said he had nothing to say about the substance of the predictions, and that the book merely reflected the beliefs of an astrologer.

“It is his right. He made a prediction based on the ancient method,” Mr. Eysan said. “I will believe what is correct, but what is not correct, I will not believe.”

Asked about the potential for flooding, Keo Vy, spokesman for the National Committee for Disaster Management, said that though the predictions were based on astrology, he could not rule out the possibility of heavy rains and flooding.

“I do not have belief, but I do not deny the prediction,” he said, adding that flooding remained likely considering the past three years had seen relatively little rain.

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