People huddled around television screens on Friday to watch state-run TVK’s ceremonial changing of the Devada, the celestial divinity whose official arrival on earth at 6:48 am ushered in the Khmer New Year.
Viewers watched as a gilded dog figurine replaced a gilded rooster statue—representing the transition in years and its representative animal.
After the departing Devada transferred her powers to the new, CPP and Senate President Chea Sim took to the nation’s TV sets to deliver the New Year’s greeting, which focused on the achievement of political and social stability.
In an apparent acknowledgment of the new close ties between the Sam Rainsy Party and his ruling CPP, Chea Sim urged ruling parties and non-ruling parties, civil society and NGOs to join hands to serve the nation in the Year of the Dog.
“Nothing is absolutely 100 percent good and nothing is absolutely 100 percent bad,” he said. “As human beings we are always both right and wrong, importantly we need mutual constructive criticism. Criticism does not need to be all negative and harsh,” he said.
After Chea Sim’s speech, a newsreader read a message from Prime Minister Hun Sen, which highlighted the economic victories of the Year of the Rooster.
Inflation was kept at 5 percent and the rainy season rice harvest in the passing year was more than 4 million tons, a 25 percent increase over the Year of the Monkey, Hun Sen wrote.
Although no message from King Norodom Sihamoni was delivered, retired King Norodom Sihanouk issued a thank you note on his Web site for the good wishes offered by Chea Sim in his speech.
Around Phnom Penh Friday morning, residents were seen cleaning spirit house and bathing Buddha statues, and traveling through quiet streets to burn incense and ritually deposit sand at pagodas.
At a Stung Meanchey pagoda in Meanchey district, Hab Sok, a 25-year-old monk from Takeo province said he predicts peace and prosperity for the new year, but he still had some worries.
“The last year was good for farmers because they could produce more rice…but the problems that remain are gang robbery and traffic accidents,” he said.
Selling plates of sand and incense sticks at the pagoda, Kim Suon, 34, also hoped to make a new year profit.
“This day is the best one for getting money for my family,” he said.
Cambodian Buddhists believe that by joining together to build piles of sand inside the pagoda, they will bring luck, warmth and wealth for the new year.