Wat Phnom looked like a dance party Sunday morning, as the faithful and the playful came to celebrate the last day of the Khmer New Year holiday. By 9:30 am, gaggles of teenagers had taken over, organizing dance circles and exchanging flirtations and handfuls of baby powder.
Hom An, 40, dressed in a traditional long skirt, lace blouse and sash, stood on the sidelines of a crowd of teens covering each other with white powder.
“It’s a little bit strange, but it’s not really against [Khmer] culture,” she said. “They are happier with this than with the old way. Teenagers find their own way to celebrate. Teenagers always want to change styles,” she added.
More good luck would come to the country if people were happy, she said, and suggested the police should relax new rules imposed by the municipality to outlaw throwing water and talcum powder.
Municipal Traffic Police Chief Tin Prasoer said those new rules helped reduce the number of traffic accidents this year compared to last year.
The Khmer New Year weekend saw fewer and less serious traffic accidents than last year. There were nine accidents on Friday and Saturday, he said, in which 11 people were seriously injured and six slightly injured. Tin Prasoer said that last year saw fatalities in the first two days of the celebrations.
But Nun Pin Sophal agreed with Hom An. “The young generation is good luck…. They are celebrating with joy, so the year will bring new good luck,” she said.
Twenty-four prisoners were also in for some New Year’s cheer after having their jail sentences reduced by King Norodom Sihamoni, which is an annual indulgence of the monarch, said Tuot Lux, secretary of state for the Ministry of Justice.