With flaming incense, pomegranate fruits and stalks of long, black sugar cane, thousands of Chinese-Cambodians ushered in the Year of the Dog early Sunday morning, hoping for good luck and success.
“I have to come early to buy black sugar cane and pomegranates,” said Hong Pavvan, a Chinese-Cambodian who was at Pao Xinsheashi pagoda in Kandal province’s Takhmau town by 2 am Sunday.
“Black sugar cane represents our business, and if we can buy good, heavy, black sugar cane and good pomegranates, our business will be lucrative and better than last year.”
Hong Pin An, also Chinese-Cambodian, was early to the pagoda as well.
“We have to light incense sticks [at the pagoda] to bring back home, because it means we are bringing the [New Year] spirit to stay with us to bless our family,” said Hong Pin An.
“Pomegranate, with its leaves, are good material to get bad luck and ghosts out of our homes,” he said.
In lieu of firecrackers, which Phnom Penh municipal officials banned over safety concerns, people played loud instruments to ward off evil spirits.
Those who attended Year of the Dog celebrations at Pao Xinsheashi pagoda and at Wat Phnom in Phnom Penh said there has been a steady increase of people attending Chinese New Year celebrations in recent years—including those who do not claim Chinese ancestry.
Pa Prunna, chief of Olympic Market, said that more and more Cambodians are staying at home over the Chinese New Year, leaving the center of Phnom Penh unusually devoid of traffic.
“Both Khmer and Chinese-Cambodian vendors do not come to sell,” he said.
Siem Lay Y, 38, said that he has been celebrating Chinese New Year ever since he married a Chinese-Cambodian woman a decade ago.
Though Khmer and not Chinese, Siem Lay Y said there was very good reason to celebrate the holiday. “It’s really good to celebrate Chinese New Year because I’ve noticed that my business is doing better from year to year,” he said.