By Albeiro Rodas:
(Kep City & Sihanoukville, Cambodia) The Kingdom of Cambodia celebrates its New Year following the Buddhist calendar that will begin on April 16. It marks also the beginning of the rainy season, a natural event that Cambodian farmers wait anxiously in a country where 80% of its population lives from agriculture.
The Don Bosco Technical Schools of Cambodia, which is deeply rooted in the ancient Cambodian traditions, dedicate time to celebrate the local culture with the young people.
On April 10, a day before the Khmer New Year holidays, the Salesians held the Thanksgiving Day which is also a Day of the Community and Parents’ Day.
The Thanksgiving Day (Tnay Kothinnuo in Khmer) or Reawakened Day, consists in showing honor to the parents. The children come during the New Year’s Eve and bath their parents - As you bathed me when I was a baby, now I bath you to pay respects to you. As schools go to holiday, the ceremony is done one week before the Khmer New Year in most national schools.
This is an opportunity to pay respects to Don Bosco as the Father, Teacher and Friend of the Cambodian youth. They also invite the parents and tutors of the students.
In Sihanoukville students and teachers wash his statue that stands in the center of the campus caring for a poor Cambodian boy. The students wash the feet and hands of teachers and of Salesians as well. When they do it, they ask forgiveness for any mistake they may have committed during the year, as well as to wish the new Cambodian year full of happiness.
The washing ceremony approximates also the annual commemoration of the Last Supper where Jesus washes the feet of the Disciples: "You call me ‘teacher’ and ‘master,’ and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, the master and teacher, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet." (John 13: 13)
Happy Khmer New Year from Don Bosco Kep.
Students of Don Bosco Kep paying respect to their parents.
Teachers wash the statue of Don Bosco, an image where the Father of the Youth walks with a poor Cambodian boy.
Fr. John Visser, Rector of Sihanoukville, blesses the students and open officially the Khmer New Year in the Don Bosco school.