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Khmer Chhankitek Calendar


Version 2.0
Updated with the algorithm used by Horas.
(originaly hosted on, and generously given to use for the Sangha by the author, Upasaka Roath Kim Soeun.)

Cambodians use two types of calendars: the international calendar for civil purposes and the traditional calendar for religious purposes. book-coverAlthough called Chhankitek, which means lunar calendar, Khmer traditional calendar is a lunisolar calendar similar to some of the Hindu calendars and the Chinese calendar.

The goal of this research is to create a create a computer program that can display the Khmer calendar for different years. With the recently published Khmer books on Khmer calendar by Mr. Kim Soeun Roath ( (ប្រតិទិនសុរិយគតិ-ចន្ទគតិ ពីគ.ស១៩០០ ដល់ គ.ស១៩៩៩ និង គ.ស២០០០ ដល់ គ.ស២០៩៩ ដោយ លោក រាត់ គឹមសឿន), the mechanics of the Khmer calendar system can be unveiled. The book “អត្តាឡើងស័កនិងមហាសង្ក្រាន្ត” by the same author also shows the calculation of the Khmer new year songkran.

Calendar Tools

As part of the development, the tools section has the Khmer monthly calendar that can display the Khmer lunar calendar from 1800 to 3000 A.D.

New Year

Khmer New Year is another big topic on this site. It reveals both the calendar aspect and the history of Cambodia. More importantly there the cultural aspect are also captured in the Khmer traditional games and other activities.

Any suggestions or comments, please email also the original author: phylypo.tum(at)


My grandma has asked me many times what day or month it is in the Khmer calendar. I typically respond by sifting through temple calendars for the appropriate date. After some time I started to realize the beauty of Khmer dates in terms of Roaj and Keit and how it correlates to the moon phases. Khmer calendar is an intriguing and mysterious system.

At first, I thought the Khmer calendar system would be similar to the international calendar we use every day except for the lunar phases. But when I saw the complex ways in which extra months are added to certain years I became more curious about the system, especially since few seem to know the mechanics of this system.

When I was first involved in a project to create the C-HOPE Khmer calendar, I found that the print shop typically use dates based on calendars generated by local temples. In order to complete the project, we had to wait until very late in the year for calendars from local temples. I also encountered another issue where calendars from different temples showed discrepancies. It was almost impossible to determine the correct one. I became increasingly intrigued and began collecting calendar printouts, hoping to uncover its mysteries.

Apart from the discrepancies in different calendar printouts, it was also extremely difficult to determine calendar dates for past and future years. Thus, one of my main goals is to computerize the Khmer calendar system so that anyone can look up dates from the past or future.

This research will introduce the basics of the calendrical systems, but it will focus mainly on the mechanics of Khmer traditional calendar. I will discuss how Cambodians traditionally count years by using 12 animals, Sak, and different eras. I will discuss the Cambodian New Year and how the New Year date is determined.

In addition, we will have online utilities to display the calendar for different years.


The calendar is a system of reckoning time. It is based on astronomical events such as the movement of the moon relative to Earth and the movement of Earth relative to the sun to determine time cycles such as day, month or year. The internationally accepted calendar used today is based on the sun, called the solar calendar. The lunar calendar reckons time based on movements of the moon. Additionally, there is also a type of calendar based on both the moon and the sun, called a lunisolar calendar.

Cambodians use two types of calendars: the international calendar for civil purposes and the traditional calendar for religious purposes. Although called Chhankitek, which means lunar calendar, Khmer traditional calendar is a lunisolar calendar similar to some of the Hindu calendars and the Chinese calendar.

To introduce basic concepts of the calendar systems, we will start with the basics of measuring time using astronomical events. This includes the movement of the Earth and the moon.

Basics of Calendrical System

The Earth rotates counter clockwise on its axis. This rotation exposes part of the Earth's surface to the sun creating day and night and accounts for the sun rising from the east and setting in the west.

As the Earth rotates on its axis, it also revolves counter clockwise around the sun in an elliptical orbit forming an ecliptic plane. On this plane, there are four markers called seasonal markers that astronomers have identified (See figure 1).

  • June Solstice and December Solstice: A particular position of Earth on the ecliptic plane where the sun rises directly above our heads.
  • March Equinox and September Equinox: A particular position of Earth on the ecliptic plane where the duration between day and night are about the same.

Figure 1: Solstices and Equinoxes (Not drawn to scale)

An astronomer named Hipparchus discovered that as the Earth rotates around its axis, the axis also revolves in a circle at a rate of about 25,800 years per revolution. The revolving axis forms a cone section of approximately 23.5 degrees. This phenomenon, called the Precession of Equinoxes, causes the equinoxes to drift slowly clockwise since the position of the equinoxes depends on the angle of Earth's axis with respect to the ecliptic plane.

Defining the Year

One year is the length of time that the Earth revolves once around the sun. A year can be measured in two different ways.

  • Tropical year: Mean length of time from March equinox to the next, about 365.242374 days, used in the Gregorian calendar and other solar calendars.
  • Sidereal year: The Earth revolves around the sun in one revolution from a fixed point relative to a star. This takes 365.25636 days, about 20 minutes longer than a tropical year. Some Hindu solar calendars use this approximation for the length of a year.

One sidereal year is exactly one revolution of the Earth around the sun. This is typically what we might think of as a year, but this measurement is not commonly used. The most commonly used measurement is the tropical year, used in the

Gregorian calendar

Although seemingly similar, the sidereal and tropical year differ in one important aspect. In the tropical year, the distance from a March Equinox to the next March Equinox is not one complete revolution. This is due to the precession of the equinox. The equinoxes drift slowly in a clockwise direction about 50 degrees per year. Thus when the Earth starts at a March equinox, it does not return to the same position at the end of the year. It is short by approximately 20 minutes or 50 degrees.

Defining the Month

The moon is used to measure the length of time for month in the lunar and lunisolar calendar. The moon revolves around the Earth in a counter clockwise direction as the Earth revolves around the sun. There are two ways to measure a month:

  • 1. Sidereal month: The moon revolves around the Earth exactly once relative to the Earth. This takes about 27.32 days. The lunar calendar does not use this measurement.
  • 2. Synodic month: Using moon phases, a Synodic month is measured from one new moon to the next. The duration is about 29.53 days. The lunar calendar utilizes this measurement.

To illustrate how these two measurements are different, we first look at the moon phases as projected by the sun. The sun lights up one side of the moon and observers from Earth see different phases of the moon depending on the location of the moon relative to Earth and the sun. When the moon is between the Earth and the sun, we only see the dark side of the moon, called a new moon.

As the moon continues to revolve around the sun, we start to see more of the bright side of the moon. This moon phase is called waxing. As the moon revolves a quarter-way around Earth, we see the moon when half of it is dark and the other half is bright. At this point, it is called the first quarter.

When Earth is positioned between the moon and the sun, we see only the bright side of the moon, called a full moon. As the moon continues to orbit Earth, we start to see the dark side of the moon again. This phase is called waning. We continue to see more of the dark side of the moon until it is completely dark.

Moon Phase Figure 2: Moon Phase (not drawn to scale)

As the moon revolves around Earth, Earth also revolves around the sun. If we start at the new moon when the moon is between Earth and the sun in a straight line, as the moon completes one revolution around Earth, Earth has already moved some distance around the sun. Consequently, after one revolution, the moon's position relative to Earth and the sun is no longer in a straight line. It takes almost two more days in addition to 27.3 days for the moon to be in a straight line again. At that point, the cycle begins anew. The whole cycle takes about 29.5 days, which is the measurement for a Synodic month.

Synodic month Figure 3: Synodic month (not drawn to scale)

Types of calendar

1. Solar Calendar

Solar calendars use the tropical year to measure time. The international calendar in use today is the Gregorian calendar, also referred to as a western calendar. This calendar was derived from the Julian calendar and then further improved for better time approximation. Furthermore, Julian and Gregorian calendars determine leap years differently.

In the Julian calendar, a leap year occurs every four years, which means there are 365.25 days a year. A normal Julian year is 365 days and a leap year is 366 days. Julian leap years are divisible by 4.

On the other hand, Gregorian calendars approximate a year to be 365.2424 days which is closer to the tropical year. To accomplish this approximation, Gregorian calendars use the following rules in determining leap years. A leap year occurs every four years with a special exception for century years. A century year is not a leap year unless it is divisible by 400. For example, 1900 is not a leap year while 2000 is a leap year.

2. Lunar Calendar

Lunar calendars use the moon phases to determine the length of a month. Each month usually starts from one new moon to the next. Since each month is approximately 29.5 days long, one lunar year (12 months) is only 354 days, which is 11 days shorter than a tropical year. The shortage of days will cause the seasons to drift steadily. Seasons in lunar calendars regress over a 33 year period. An example of a purely lunar calendar is the Islamic Calendar.

3. Lunisolar Calendar

In order to coincide with the seasons, the lunisolar calendar adjusts itself to the tropical year. One normal lunisolar year has 12 months but an extra month is added every 2 to 3 years to compensate for the shortage of days. Examples of the lunisolar calendar include the Chinese calendar, some Indian calendars, and Khmer calendar.

Khmer Chhankitek Calendar

Khmer traditional calendar, known as Chhankitek, is a lunisolar calendar although the word Chhankitek itself means lunar calendar. While the calendar is based on the movement of the moon, calendar dates are also synchronized with the solar year to keep the seasons from drifting. Since the number of days in a lunar year is shorter than the solar year, the synchronization is accomplished by adding an additional month or day to a particular year.


Cambodians commonly identify a year by using a system of 12 animals in conjunction with a ten-numeric cycle system. Years may also be identified using several different era. Since the majority of the Cambodians are Buddhist, Buddhist Era was widely used. Buddhist Era (BE) began when Buddha passed away at the age of 80 (544 BC). Cambodians also use Jolak Sakaraj which is an era that began at 1183 BE and Moha Sakaraj, an era that began at 78 AD. 1)

Animal Year

The twelve animals that identify the Cambodian year are: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, goat, monkey, rooster, dog and pig. These animals are named in Khmer as Jute, Chlov, Karl, Thos, Rorng, Masagn, Momee, Momay, Voke, Roka, Jor, and Koar respectively. Names in Khmer are not translation words for each of the animals but are special names created for each year. Cambodians believe that each animal possess specific and unique qualities; people born to a particular animal year share explicit qualities associated with that animal. These qualities determine a person's characteristics including personality, fame and fortune. The table below shows the 12 animals and examples of AD years that the animal represents.

Ten-year cycle system (Sak)

Sak in Khmer means era or counting the sequence of year which refers to a numbering scheme from one to ten used to identify a particular year. It starts with a key word Aek, Tou, Trey, Jaktva, Pagnjak, Chor, Sabpak, Ardak, Noppak, and Somrithik which means one to ten respectively. Then the word “sak” is added to the end of each word. So Aeksak means the first year and Tousak means the second year and so on until Somrithiksak which means the tenth year. Cambodians use the Sak system to distinguish the same animal years that are in a different 12-year cycle. As an example, a 20-year old person is born on the same animal year as 32-year old person, but are born on a different sak. The table below shows the ten-year cycle of Sak and its meanings.

Sak and animal years are cycled (or incremented) simultaneously. The following are some examples of animal years and the corresponding Saks.

By incrementing simultaneously, the Khmer calendrical system identify 60 different years through one complete cycle of Sak and animals (note that this system does not give 120-year distinction since both animals and Sak are incremented simultaneously).

Apart from this 60-year cycle, Cambodians also use several counting systems to reckon the year including Put Sakaraj or Buddhist Era (BE), Moha Sakaraj (Saka), Jolak Sakaraj, and Christ Sakaraj (AD). See appendix for more information about these different eras. Also see the appendix for methods for finding Sak or animal year from different eras.


Khmer solar months correspond to the twelve months in Gregorian calendar. Each of the months refers to a particular Reasey that can be translated to a Zodiac sign. For example, the Zodiac sign for the Khmer month of Seiha (August) is Reasey Seihak which is Leo (the lion). A year is divided into 12 Reaseys. Each Reasey has the 30-degree measurement of the path that the Earth travels around the sun. See the appendix for the list of Reaseys.

A lunar year is divided into 12 Reaks, a symbol for lunar months similar to Zodiac representations in solar months. For example, the first month of a lunar year is Mekasay and the Reak for this month is deer. Reaks do not use the degree measurement like Reasey. See the appendix for a complete list of Reaks.

Khmer lunar months start from one new moon to the next. The month begins with Mekasay, which has 29 days then Bos, which has 30 days. The number of days alternate every month. The last month of the year is Kardek, which has 30 days. A normal year is 354 days.

The following is a list of Khmer lunar months and the number of days:

Since a lunar month is about 29.5 days, one lunar year is 354 days, which is shorter than the solar year by 11 days. Adjusting for this discrepancy, an extra month is added every two to three years. An extra day is also added to a particular year to maintain the synchronization.

A leap year can have an extra month or an extra day.

  • A year with an extra day is called Chhantrea Thimeas (ចន្ទ្រាធិមាស) or Adhikavereak (អធិកវារៈ). This year has 355 days.
  • A year with an extra month is called Adhikameas (អធិកមាស). This year has 384 days.

The extra leap-day occurs in the month of Jays (ជេស្ឋ) which has 30 days instead of the normal 29 days.

Unlike the Indian and Chinese calendar where any month can become leap months, Khmer leap month is always in the month of Ashad. Adhikameas has two months of Ashad (អាសាធ). The first month of Ashad is called Badhamasad (បឋមាសាធ) and the second month is called Thutiyasad (ទុតិយាសាធ). In the year of Adhikameas both Badhamasad and Thutiyasad months have 30 days making the number of days in that year totaling 384 days. Only one type of leap year can occur at a time. There is no year with both an extra day and an extra month as in the case for the Chinese calendar.


Khmer lunisolar calendar counts the day by using Keit (កើត) and Roaj (រោច). Keit signifies that the moon is in its waxing phase. Keit is counted from a new moon to a full moon. The number is counted from one to fifteen incrementally. So the new moon is one Keit and the full moon is fifteen Keit. Then it continues with one Roaj. Roaj indicates that the moon is in its waning phase going from full moon to new moon. Depending on the number of days in that month, Roaj can go from one to fourteen for a 29-day month or one to fifteen for a 30-day month.

This counting system occurs consistently throughout each month and differs from the Indian lunisolar calendar where the date or tithi can skip a day depending on the moon phase. In both the Indian and Chinese calendar, the number of days per month varies from year to year.


Initial Approach

During my initial attempt to computerize the Khmer calendar calculation, I was not able to find any literature on how Khmer calendar works. So I attempt to collect data and try to find pattern to be able to generate the calendar dynamically.


Over the past seven years, I have collected Khmer calendar printouts. I thought that after collecting it for a few years, I would find a pattern and be able to formulate an algorithm to describe the calendar. I was far off the mark. As my understanding of the Khmer calendar system improved, I found it more mysterious. I talked to a few people who may have knowledge concerning the calendar but they implied that only the Horas know how the system works. Hora in this case refers to the astronomer not the fortuneteller.

Some Khmer calendar printouts distributed by the Khmer temple in CA, USA were not always correct. There is no clear source for an authoritative calendar except those that came from Cambodia. Sometimes calendars from different temples differ from each other. Therefore the religious holidays do not always coincide.

I collected my calendar resources in Long Beach, CA. I collected 16 calendar printouts that span 10 years. From these calendars, I attempted to find possible errors. After I was confident that my data was correct, I then mapped out each year. This gave me a mapping of the Khmer calendar dates from 1996 to 2005, including the interpolation I made for 2001 since I did not have the data. I determined which years were leap-month or leap-day years. I also included some comparisons to old Hindu lunisolar calendar leap years from Dershowitz and Reingold's book. This shows that the leap-months are not coincided with each other.

My goal is to find a pattern to identify which years are leap-month or leap-day years (year with extra month or extra day). Given that I have a rough idea that a leap-month year occurs every 2 to 3 years I thought that the data would be sufficient. Unfortunately I was not able to find any conclusive results.

The following table shows data I compiled from the calendar printouts.

List of years with leap-day and leap-month from the calendar printouts.
Table 1: List of years with leap-day and leap-month from the calendar printouts.

Finding more Khmer calendar printouts proved to be difficult. So my next approach is to try mapping out more years manually. In order to do this I need to have some certainty that the new data is correct. Fortunately, I found four dates that I know both from the Khmer calendar and the Gregorian calendar. These are birthdates in 1975, 1978, 1982, and 1983. Assuming that those dates were correct, I attempted to extrapolate the data from 1995 back to 1975.

As I further uncovered more background on lunisolar calendars, I found access to moon phase data. I also have some references to Khmer text indicating that Khmer New Year (usually April 13 or 14) must fall between certain Khmer months. This helped me to identify the leap years with the extra month. Also, the data on moon phases helped me to line up the Khmer dates more accurately.

With the resources above, I came up with the following criteria to extrapolate the data.

  • 1. Khmer New Year occurs between two dates in Khmer calendar (4 Keit of Chaet and 4 Keit of Vesak).
  • 2. Moon phase data synchronize with Roaj and Keit dates. This allows for a good probability of determining the leap-day year. The Roaj and Keit dates should line up with the moon phases as described in the day section above with the error range no more than one day.

With those findings, I was able to map out 31 years (1975-2005) with a certain degree of confidence. Now, I can start to look for patterns.

Metonic Cycle Attempt

In order to find the pattern we need to identify a cycle. I looked into a well-known cycle is called Metonic cycle. The Metonic cycle, discovered by a Greek astronomer Meton, synchronizes the solar and lunar year. He found that every 19 years the lunar and solar calendar coincided.

In fact, 235 lunar months (19 years) is 6,939.6884 days while 19 Tropical years is 6,939.6018 days. With 19 lunar years, we can have 7 leap months thus (19 years * 12 months/year) + 7 months is 235 months.

I found a reference claiming that Thai calendar follow the Metonic cycle but not as a rule. Since Khmer and Thai use the same system, I attempted to follow up on this. Since 6,939.60 days is not close to a whole day, the synchronization will be off by 0.6 days every 19 years. But if I attempt to use the Metonic cycle for Khmer calendar, these would be the calculations:

For Metonic 19-year cycle:

9 regular years * 354 days = 3,186 days

3 leap-day years * 355 days = 1,065 days

7 leap-month year * 384 days = 2,688 days

Total: 6,939 days

So for 19 years, it would sum up to 7 leap-months and 3 leap-days. This comes out to be 6,939.0 days. Thus this cycle generates about 0.688 day shorter than the lunar year every 19 years. So we can add an exception to compensate for the shortage. The cycle is shorter than the actual lunar cycle by about 0.6884 days every 19 years or 0.0362 days per year. An equivalent ratio, 17/494, which is 0.0344, is fairly close to use since 494 is a multiple of 19. By having 17 leap-day years every 494 years, we need to have 3 leap-day years every 4 Metonic cycles, or 18 leap-day years per 494 years. To get 17, we just subtract one leap-day year every 494 years.

By looking at the limited data, I can find the Metonic sequence (3, 6, 8, 11, 14, 17, and 19) by starting at the year 1978. This cycle seems to fit for leap-month years.

For leap-day years, I cannot use the Metonic cycle sequence number since it is already used for the leap-month year. But if I use Metonic cycle as a cycle, I should find that leap-day years repeat every cycle. The Metonic numbers for leap-day year are 1, 4, and 10. The cycle seems to match well with the existing data.

List of leap years corresponds to Metonic cycle.
Table 2: List of leap years corresponds to Metonic cycle. The Metonic cycle number in bold face indicates leap-month years. Year in AD with gray background indicates data from calendar printouts. Years with light gray background are extrapolated from a known date. R stands for Roaj and K stands for Keit. They represent day of the month where 1K is the first day of the month and 1R is sixteenth day of the month.

By extrapolating from the Metonic cycle described above, since 2009 AD is the leap-day year, we can add the first leap-day year on Metonic number 13.

AD BE Saka Metonic Number Khmer Leap Hindu Day on Jan. 1 Khmer Date on Jan. 1 Khmer Date on Dec. 31
2005 2549 1897 9 None 21 6R Mekasay 2K Bos
2006 2550 1898 10 Day 2 3K Bos 12K Bos
2007 2551 1899 11 Month 13 13K Bos 7R Mekasay
2008 2552 1900 12 None 24 8R Mekasay 5K Bos
2009 2553 1901 13 Day 6 6K Bos 15K Bos
2010 2554 1902 14 Month 16 1R Bos 10R Mekasay
2011 2555 1903 15 None 27 11R Mekasay 7K Bos
2012 2556 1904 16 None 8 8K Bos 4R Bos
2013 2557 1905 17 Month 20 5R Bos 14R Mekasay
2014 2558 1906 18 None 1 1K Bos 11K Bos
2015 2559 1907 19 Month 11 12K Bos 6R Mekasay
2016 2560 1908 1 Day 22 7R Mekasay 3K Bos
2017 2561 1909 2 None 4 4K Bos 14K Bos
2018 2562 1910 3 Month 15 15K Bos 9R Mekasay
2019 2563 1911 4 Day 26 10R Mekasay 5K Bos
2020 2564 1912 5 None 6 6R Bos 2R Bos

Table 3: List of projected Metonic cycles and Khmer leap years. Note that the Hindu Day above is the day of the month in Hindu lunisolar calendar at January 1. Notice the equivalent to the Khmer day. It typically varies within 1 day. R=Roaj which came after 15 Keit so 6R is day 21.

Although I do not have enough concrete data to show multiple cycles of the Metonic cycles, the extrapolated data from 2006 to 2016 supports the use of Metonic cycle in Khmer calendar. In addition, running this method over 1,000 years, I found that the date still matches within the moon phase criteria. This approach can be a good estimate of how the calendar work.

Error Analysis

There is no way to confirm that the extrapolated data is correct. So finding the Metonic number for leap-month year may not be correct. Those data can be adjusted to match or mismatch the cycle. The cycle only confirm that the synchronization between lunar and solar calendar is correct.

Even though the moon phase still coincide after running the algorithm over 1,000 year, it does not confirm that the actual calculation is the way that Khmer Horas does the calculation. For example, the leap month can be shifted by 1 years in the Metonic cycle and the moon phase would still within the acceptabble range.

In fact, with the new publication of the actual Horas' calculation, the Metonic cycle was not used. The next section will highlight the actual calculation.

Khmer Calendar Algorithm

The following calculation is from “Pratitin Soryakkatik-Chankatik 1900-1999” by Mr. Roath Kim Soeun. It illustrates how to determine if a given year is a normal year, leap-day year, or leap-month year. The calculation can use different eras including Buddhist Era, Jola Sakaraj but not AD. Here we choose to use only Buddhist Era. Calculation

The calculation here is concerned with determining if a given year is a normal Lunisolar year (354 days), or leap-day year (355 days) or a leap-month year (384 days).

Khmer Solar Leap

We first begin defining Khmer Solar Leap year (determine if a year has 365 or 366 days). This is calculation is different than how Gregorian leap year.

If Kromthupul is less than or equal 207, then it is a Khmer Solar leap year (366-day year).

Aharkun_mod = (be_year * 292207 + 499) mod 800;
Kromthupul = 800 - Aharkun_mod

Avoman: អាវមាន

Avoman determines if a given year is a leap-day year. Given a year in Buddhist Era as denoted as be_year:

 avoman = (Aharkun(be_year) * 11 + 25) mod 692

Based on the avoman value, leap-day year is detemined as follow:

  • If it is Khmer solar leap year and Avoman is less than 127 then it is a leap-day year.
  • If it is non-Khmer solar leap year:
    • if Avoman is less than 138, then it is a leap-day year.
    • if Avoman is 137 and the next year has Avoman 0, then the year with Avoman 137 is a normal year and the year with Avoman 0 is a leap-day year.
  • Else it is not a leap-day year.

Aharkun: អាហារគុណ ឬ ហារគុណ

Aharkun is used for Avoman and Bodithey calculation below. Given be_year as a target year in Buddhist Era:

 aharkun = ⌊(be_year * 292207 + 499) / 800⌋ + 4

Notes: ⌊ ⌋ is a floor function.

Bodithey: បូតិថី

Bodithey determines if a given year is a leap-month year. Given be_year target year in Buddhist Era:

 a = Aharkun(be_year)
 temp = ⌊(a * 11 + 25) / 692⌋
 bodithey = (temp + a + 29) mod 30

If Bodithey is greater than 24 or less than 6, then the year is a leap-month. Else it is not a leap-month.

Special Cases:

  • If Bodithey is 24 and the next year is 6, then Bodithey 24 year is a leap-month year.
  • If Bodithey is 25 and the next year is 5, then Bodithey 25 year is not a leap-month year.

Bodithey Leap vs. Protetin Leap

There are two approaches for identifying leap year, Bodithey leap and Protetin leap.

Bodithey leap uses Avoman to determine if a year a leap-day year. It also uses Bodithey to determine if a year is leap-month year. Thus, the result can be both leap-day and leap-month year. So there are four possible types:

  • 1. normal year
  • 2. leap-month year
  • 3. leap-day year
  • 4. leap-month and leap-day year

On the other hand, the actual Khmer calendar year cannot have both leap-month and leap-day year. We call this Protetin leap, which only has three types: normal, leap-month or leap-day year.

So when Bodithey leap found a year to be both leap-month and leap-day year, that year will represent in the Protetin leap as only a leap-month year. Then we move the leap-day year to next year.

So when checking for Protetin leap for a particular year, it is neccessary to check the previous year for Bodithey leap. If the previous year is of type four, then the current year is a leap-day year.

Calendar Data

The calculation done here in the monthly calendar is to use AD. So first we need to convert the AD year to BE. Notice that BE year is AD - 544.

Here are the calculation from 2000 AD to 2020 AD.

Year in AD Year in BE Aharkun Avoman Bodithey Bod. Leap Cal. Leap
2000 2544 929222 627 11 N -
2001 2545 929588 501 23 N N
2002 2546 929953 364 4 M M
2003 2547 930318 227 15 N N
2004 2548 930683 90 26 MD M
2005 2549 931049 656 7 N D
2006 2550 931414 519 18 N N
2007 2551 931779 382 29 M M
2008 2552 932144 245 10 N N
2009 2553 932510 119 22 D D
2010 2554 932875 674 2 M M
2011 2555 933240 537 13 N N
2012 2556 933605 400 24 M M
2013 2557 933971 274 6 N N
2014 2558 934336 137 17 N N
2015 2559 934701 0 28 MD M
2016 2560 935067 566 9 N D
2017 2561 935432 429 20 N N
2018 2562 935797 292 1 M M
2019 2563 936162 155 12 N N
2020 2564 936528 29 24 D D

Notes: Bod. Leap: Bodithey Leap (N:Normal, D:Leap Day, M:Leap Month, MD:Month and Day) Cal. Leap: Calendar Leap (N:Normal, D:Leap Day, M:Leap Month)

Computer Method

The previous section shows the steps to determine if a given year is a normal year, a leadp-day year or a leap-month year. With the result, we can loop through the calendar year from a known point until the target year.

Sample Php Code

The following are Php code from the algorithm from previous section. The following are based on the books by Mr. Roath Kim Soeun. This is only a portion of the calculation that needed to determine if the year is a regular year, a leap-day year, or a leap-month year.

// return 0-29
function get_bodithey($year) {
  $ahk = get_aharkun($year);
  $avml = floor((11 * $ahk + 25)  / 692);
  $m = $avml + $ahk + 29;
  return ($m % 30);

// return 0-291
function get_avoman($year) {
  $ahk = get_aharkun($year);
  $avm = (11 * $ahk + 25)  % 692;
  return $avm;

// return int
function get_aharkun($ad_year) {
  $beyear = get_be_year($ad_year);
  $t = $beyear * 292207 + 499;
  $ahk = floor($t / 800) + 4;
  return $ahk;

// return 1-800
function kromthupul($be_year) {
   $akh = get_akhakun_mod($be_year);
   $krom = 800 - $akh;
   return $krom;

function is_khmer_solar_leap($year) {
   $be_year = get_be_year($year); 
   $krom = kromthupul($be_year);
   if ($krom <= 207) return 1;
   else return 0;
function get_akhakun_mod($be_year) {
   $t = $be_year * 292207 + 499;
   $ahkmod = $t % 800;
   return $ahkmod;

// return 0:regular, 1:leap month, 2:leap day, 3:leap day and month
function get_bodithey_leap($ad_year) {
  $result = 0;
  $a = get_avoman($ad_year);
  $b = get_bodithey($ad_year);

  // check bodithey leap month
  $bodithey_leap = 0;
  if ($b >= 25 || $b <= 5) {
    $bodithey_leap = 1;
  // check for avoman leap-day based on gregorian leap
  $avoman_leap = 0;
  if (is_khmer_solar_leap($ad_year)) {
    if ($a <= 126) $avoman_leap = 1;
  } else {
    if ($a <=137) {
      // check for avoman case 137/0, 137 must be normal year (p.26)
      if (get_avoman($ad_year + 1) == 0) {
        $avoman_leap = 0;
      } else $avoman_leap = 1;

  // case of 25/5 consecutively
  // only bodithey 5 can be leap-month, so set bodithey 25 to none
  if ($b == 25) {
    $next_b = get_bodithey($ad_year + 1);
    if ($next_b == 5) $bodithey_leap = 0;

  // case of 24/6 consecutively, 24 must be leap-month
  if ($b == 24) {
    $next_b = get_bodithey($ad_year + 1);
    if ($next_b == 6) $bodithey_leap = 1;
  // format leap result (0:regular, 1:month, 2:day, 3:both)
  if ($bodithey_leap == 1 && $avoman_leap == 1) {
    $result = 3;
  } else if ($bodithey_leap == 1) {
    $result = 1;
  } else if ($avoman_leap == 1) {
    $result = 2;
  } else $result = 0;

  return $result;

// return 0:regular, 1:leap month, 2:leap day (no leap month and day together)
function get_protetin_leap($adyear) {
  $b = get_bodithey_leap($adyear);
  if ($b == 3) { 
    return 1;
  if ($b == 2 || $b == 1) { 
    return $b;
  // case of previous year is 3
  if (get_bodithey_leap($adyear - 1) == 3) { 
    return 2;
  // normal case
  return 0;

The final get_protetin_leap function can tell us whether a particular year is a normal year, a leap-month year or a leap-day year. Thus we can iterate through the year from a know point to a target year.


The approach is to use the known Gregorian calendar then mapped out the correspond Khmer calendar system. After knowing the type of Khmer calendar year, we will increment one year at a time from a specific year to the target year. To do that we first need a start date. I use January 1, 1900 AD in Gregorian calendar. This date will be called an epoch. The associate Khmer known date is 1 Keit of Bos (month number two).

Epoch Date: January 1, 1900

Associate Khmer Epoch Date: 
    epoch_year  = 1900;
    khmer_month = 2; // 1:Makasay, 2:Boss
    khmer_day   = 1; // First day of the month (1-30)

Next, we will start iterate from the Epoch year to the desired calendar year that we wanted to show. We start of by saving off the Epoch month and day into $newm and $newd respectively.

    newm = epoch_month;
    newd = epoch_day;

We need to update the $newm and $newd per each iteration. In order to perform this update, we need to know how many days in a Gregorian year. This function (is_gregorian_leap) determines if a year is a Gregorian leap year or not. See the code section for detail implementation of this function. If a year a Gregorian year is a leap year then it has 366 days and 365 days if it is not. We save this in $gnumday variable.

   // get number of days in a Gregorian year 
   if (is_gregorian_leap(year)) { 
     gnumday = 366;
   else { 
     gnumday = 365;

Then we find the number of days that differ in Gregorian year and Khmer year. The number of days in Khmer year is determined by the type of Khmer year (discuss in the next section). If it is a leap-day year the number of days is 355 days, a leap-month year is 384 days, and a normal year is 354 days.

   // get number of days in a Khmer year
   if (is_khmer_leap_month(year)) { 
     knumday = 384;
   else if (is_khmer_leap_day(year)) { 
     knumday = 355;
   } else { 
     knumday = 354;
   // find the different between gnumday and knumday
   diff = gnumday - knumday;

From the differences in number of days above (diff), we can update newm and newd for that year. This update is using the fact that if Khmer year is shorter or longer than Gregorian year by x number of days, we just subtract or add from the current KhmerDay and KhmerMonth respectively.

This method is done by determining how many days in a particular Khmer month in case the subtraction or addition goes pass the valid number of day in Khmer month (1 to 29 or 30).

   // find newd, newm of Khmer date
   newd = newd + diff;
   maxday = get_numofday_in_kmonth(newm, year);
   // if newd is bigger the number of day in 
   // in that month, adjust the newm and newd
   while(newd > maxday) { 
      newd = newd - maxday; 
      maxday = get_numofday_in_kmonth(newm, year);
   // if newd is negative (case of subtraction)
   while (newd <= 0) {
      newd = get_numofday_in_kmonth(newm - 1, year) 
      + newd; 

In this iteration, the Khmer month and day would result in January 1, 1901.

The iteration repeats until the year matches the year we want to show. At the end of the iteration, we know that Khmer date for the beginning of the year to display. This is saved in $newm and $newd for Khmer month and day respectively.

Now we call to the Khmer calculation to determine the type of year for Khmer calendar.


After knowing the KhmerDay and KhmerMonth for a given year, we can display the monthly calendar with Khmer date. We first need to identify if the given Khmer year is a normal, leap-day, or leap-month year.

  • If it is a normal year, we know that there are 12 months in that year and the number of days per month can be found in the appendix. Notice that the month of Jays is 29.
  • If it a leap-day year, everything is the same as above except Jays has 30 days instead of 29 days.
  • If it is a leap-month year, there are 13 months for that year and the month of Ashad become 2 months (Badhamasad and Thutiyasad) with 30 days each. Note that the month of Jays has 29 days.

Khmer Monthly Calendar Utility

From the algorithm above, I can create a Khmer monthly calendar. Khmer calendar typically added specific the moon phases. We can use the Khmer day to determine the moon phases. If the Khmer day is 8 (8 Keit), it is a first quarter and 15 (15 Keit) is a full moon. If it is the last day of the Khmer month which is 29 or 30 (14 Roaj or 15 Roaj), it is a new moon.

There are also specific types of day that are added to the calendar. For example Tgnai Koar, Tgnai Pengboramei, and Tgnai Sel are usually shown in Khmer calendar. See Khmer Terminologies in the appendix for more detail on how to add these types of day.

It is important to display the Khmer associated months in the calendar. One Gregorian month can span exactly one Khmer month or it can span up to three months. To accommodate the possibilities, I use three different color codes to identify the month. The Khmer date shown each day will have the color that corresponds to the month.

A calendar cannot be complete without display the year. The most used era in Khmer calendar is Buddhist Era (BE). To find BE year, we just add 544 to the current Gregorian year. Be aware that BE year is incremented in Khmer New Year day. The date is typically fall in April. See the section about Songkran date for more detail. The following is the pseudo code for determining the BE.

if (current_month < april) {  
   BE = current_year + 543;
} else { 
   BE = current_year + 544;

Khmer also uses Moha Sakaraj (MS)1 and Jolak Sakaraj (JS)2. The following shows the pseudo code of calculating the MS and JS.

MS = current_year - 78;
JS = current_year - 638;

The religious events can also be added to the calendar by using the Khmer date. See the appendix for religious events.

Data Verification

The following are list of dates that has Khmer Calendar and Gregorian Calendar from different sites I found online.

Source Event Khmer Calendar Date Gregorian Date Commentនិល_ទៀង និល ទៀង ប្រសូត ថ្ងៃ​ព្រហស្បតិ៍ ​២​កើត ខែ​អស្សុជ ឆ្នាំ​ឆ្លូវ បញ្ច​ស័ក ព.ស.​២៤៥៧ ២ តុលា គ.ស.​១៩១៣ Matched ​ថ្ងៃ​ព្រហស្បតិ៍ ១៣​រោច​ ខែ​បុស្ស ឆ្នាំ​វក (ឆ​ស័ក)ព.ស.​២៤៨៨ ថ្ងៃ​ទី​១១ ខែ​មករា ឆ្នាំ​១៩៤៤ 1945 would matchប្រាក់_ហ៊ិន ប្រាក់ ហ៊ិន ៨​កើត ខែ​កក្ដិក ឆ្នាំ​កុរ ព.ស.​២៤៩១ ២០ ខែ​វិច្ឆិកា គ.ស.​១៩៤៧ Matchedជួន_ណាត Chuon Nath ​ថ្ងៃ​១៣​កើត និង​១៤​កើត ខែ​ភទ្របទ (ឆ្នាំរកា ឯក​ស័ក, ព.ស.​ ២៥១៣) ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២៤ និង​២៥ ខែ​កញ្ញា ឆ្នាំ​១៩៦៩ Matched ថ្ងៃ​ច័ន្ទ ៦​រោច ខែ​អស្សុជ ឆ្នាំ​រោង (សំរឹទ្ធិ​ស័ក) ព.ស.​២៥៣២ ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​៣១ ខែ​តុលា គ.ស.​១៩៨៧ 1988 would matchជួន_ណាត Chuon Nath Death ថ្ងៃ​១២​កើត ខែ​ភទ្របទ ឆ្នាំ​រកា ឯក​ស័ក ព.ស.​២៥១៣ ​ថ្ងៃ​ទី​២៣ កញ្ញា ឆ្នាំ​១៩៦៩ Matched ពិធីច្រត់ព្រះនង្គ័ល ថ្ងៃ ៤ រោច ខែពិសាខ ថ្ងៃទី ២៦ ឧសភា2005 Matched ថ្ងៃ ចន្ទ ១២កើត ខែមាឃ ឆ្នាំខាលទោស័ក ព.ស ២៤៩៣ ទី១៨ ខែកុម្ភៈឆ្នាំ១៩៥១ Matched ថ្ងៃ ភ្ជុំបិណ្ឌ ថ្ងៃ ១៥ រោច ខែ ភទ្របទ ឆ្នាំ ជូត សំរិទ្ធិស័ក
ព.ស. ២៥៥២ ទី 29 ខែ កញ្ញា ឆ្នាំ 2008 Matched

Sample Computer Programs

See the Calendar Tools section more information about the web utilities and source codes on related materials.

This is a sample utility that displays Khmer Chhankitek calendar. The implementation is done using PHP.

Calendar Tools

Khmer Date Utility

These are web utilities related to Khmer Chankitek calendar system.

Monthly Calendar Notes

List of updates made to the Khmer monthly calendar.

Updated v2.3
  • Update Sel to also cover 15 Keit and last day of Roaj. (11-20-2012)
Updated v2.2
  • Use the Khmer Solar Leap year in the calculation rather than Gregorian leap as pointed out by Mr. Khim Soeun Rath. Only affect year 1800-1899.
  • Update Chole Preah Vosa from 15 Keit to 1 Roaj.
Updated v2.1
  • Add Khmer New Year Date (Songkran) based on the algorithm in Mr. Kim Soeun Roath's books.
  • Add Songkran time as well.
Updated v2.0
  • Use the algorithm in Mr. Kim Soeun Roath's books. Confirmed output for year 1900 to 2099.
  • Included special case of consecutive Botethei's 24/6 and 25/5.
  • . Included special case of consecutive Arvman's 137/0.
  • Fix Tngai Koar to show on 1 day before the end of each month.
Updated v1.3.3
  • Fixed 2012-2013 year based on the Khmer Calendar book by Mr. Kim Soeun Roath.(01-08-2012)
Updated v1.3.2
  • Change rule for Metonic Number 9 and 10, swapped from 9-None and 10-Day to 9-day and 10-None. This error noticed by Rothana for calendar 2006. The orginal rule was based on an incorrect calendar data. The correction is based on the Sangkran dates published from 2002 to 2010 from
  • Fixed Khmer New Year date that does not have data to not display. –Bug found by Sovichet.(3-17-2011)
Updated v1.3.1
  • Fix Khmer unicode calendar year for 2011. Has duplicate year Karl rather than Toss. Apr 18, 2010
Updated v1.3
  • Add Khmer Unicode version. See here – Updated on Dec 18, 2009
Updated v1.2.1
  • Fixed the 2009 calendar where after Jun 22, the Khmer date is drifted back by one day. From the original calculation, 2009 is not a leap-day year but it actually is. So I changed the calculation assumption for first leap-day year from Meton 15(2011 A.D.) to 13 (2009 A.D.) See Table 3 at Calendar Data Collection. Thanks to Chantara Sok for pointing this out.
Updated v1.2
  • Add Khmer Year (animal) and Sak as English text – Updated on Jan 5, 2009
  • Add Buddhish Era (BE) or PuthSakaraj – Updated on Jan 5, 2009
Updated v1.1
  • Added 9 Khmer religious holidays (Meakbochea, Pisak bochea, Jole Preah Vosa, Kann Ben, Pjum Ben, Jegn Preah Vosa, Kathin, Sompeas Preah Khae) – need to verify kathin rule – Updated on Oct 21, 2008.
  • Fixed Tngai Koar showing on 14/14 roaj, it should be 13/14 roaj and 14 keit. - Updated on Oct 21, 2008.
  • Fixed Khmer month name for 2nd and 3rd Khmer months appear incorrectly. - Updated on Oct 18, 2008.
  • Added Khmer New Year date (from 1970 to 2020) - Updated on Oct 10, 2008.

See Khmer Monthly Calendar.

Khmer Monthly Calendar

Monthly Khmer calendar with Khmer dates and religeous dates. The calendar can start from 1800 AD and it can go up to 3000 AD.

Note: this calendar does not include all of the Cambodian National Holidays.

Acient Way of Counting Age

Find animal year from your age:

The 12 orange dots are the different positions used in this method. The animal years are positioned for the year of Roka (2005). This varies from year to year. The current animal year starts at brown arrow (second knuckle of your pointing finger) and counts clockwise to the successive years. The green flower star is where you start if the age is at least 10 years old or else start at the blue star marked as 1 going counter clockwise.

  • 1. Start counting from the tip of the pointing finger (green flower star) clockwise every second position. You count just the multiple of ten such as 10, 20, 30, and 40 until it reaches the ten digit of a specific age. As an example, for 35, I would count 10, 20, and then 30.
  • 2. If the age is a multiple of ten, that was your final position. Or else continue from the current position by counting backward (counter clockwise) one position at a time until it reaches a specific age. So for the 35, from my early position, I count counter clockwise 31, 32, 33, 34, and then 35 arriving at the dot marked 11 Jor.
  • 3. The last step is to determine what animal belongs to that final position. Start counting the current year animal at the brown arrow *. Count clockwise until it reaches your final position. That is the birth animal year for that age.

Notes: This method has been modified. The original method is to start positioning the year at the blue star (lowest point of your pointing finger). But this missed by one year; so to make it works I move the start position up to the brown arrow.

Find your age from the animal year:

This assumes that you have some idea of how old you are in a range of 10 years. Use the table on the right to determine how many count to use for a specific age.

  • 1. Use your multiple of ten of your age to determine the count. Example, for the age around 30, the count is 6.
  • 2. Start from your animal year and count to the successive animal year for the number of time found in step 1. Example, assume I was born on the year of Dog (Jor) and I am around 30. So I would count 6 times as Kaor, Jute, Chlov, Karl, Thos, and Rorng. Notice I didn't count Jor as 1 but count Koar, the next year instead.
  • 3. Now use your finger to keep track of the count, and continue until you reach the current year. The final count is added to your multiple of ten of your age. Example: Continue from step 2, I would count, Masagn as 1, Momee as 2, Momay as 3, Voke as 4, and Roka as 5. If the current year is Roka, then I stop here. There so I am 30 + 5 or 35 years old.

Birth Year Table

You can find your birth animal from the given birth year. You can also find your age from a given animal year. Age are in bold face. BE stands for Buddhist Era, and AD for “Anno Domini”. AD is the era used by Gregorian calendar.

This calculation can be off by one year depending on your birth month. We increment the age after the Cambodian New Year date in April 13 or 14 of each year.

Khmer New Year

This writing would not be sufficient without a discussion of the Khmer New Year since New Year is related to historical aspect of Khmer culture and its calendar system. Khmer New Year is the largest and most festive celebration in Cambodia.


Before the end of the Angkor era, Khmer celebrated New Year according to the lunisolar calendar. According to Zhou Daguan, the Chinese traveler to Cambodia in the 13th century, Khmer New Year occurred on the tenth month on the Chinese calendar.2) By running a calculation on Khmer calendar for 1295 AD, the year that Zhou Daguan recorded the event, the tenth month on the Chinese calendar is the first month on Khmer calendar. The first month of the Khmer calendar is Mekasay (មិគសិរ) which falls around January or December in the Gregorian calendar. This is the New Year date which is not widely celebrated today.

After the Angkorian period, Cambodians make use of both lunisolar and solar calendar. With the adoption of the new calendar system, Khmer changed its celebration as well. Many suggest that the decision to change the New Year date to April is due to civil reasons. In April, the farmers are done from their farming tasks and thus have time to rest and celebrate the New Year.

The New Year date was determined based on a type of solar calendar.3) If the New Year date is calculated using the Ayun Songkran, a calculation based on the lunar calendar, it is not consistent with the lunisolar calendar, but it is said that it should fall between the fourth day of the fifth and sixth month (4 Keit of Chaet and 4 Keit of Vesak).4) For New Year calculation using the Samagn Songkran–a calculation based on solar calendar, the date typically falls on April 13 or 14 on the Gregorian calendar in recent years. This is the widely celebrated and official New Year for Cambodians today.

Usually in ancient times, the celebration would last for a month; half of a month is celebrated before the New Year date and the other half after the New Year date.5) Today the celebration lasts about the duration of the New Year, which is 3 to 4 days.

The Calendar Aspect

According to the article from Sinhour Torn6), Cambodians celebrate two different New Years. The first New Year that is not widely celebrated is on the first day of Chaet (១កើត ខែ ចេត្រ) of the Khmer lunisolar calendar. On that day, the animal year is changed to a new animal.

On the second New Year which is one of the biggest celebrations for Cambodians, it typically starts either on April 13 or April 14 of the Gregorian calendar. It lasts for three to four days depending on the year. The first day is called Songkran. The second is called Vonabot. The third day of the four-day New Year is also called Vonabot. The last day is called Laeung Sak. Laeung Sak day is the day to increment Sak.

There are different opinions on exactly when to increment the Buddhist era. Some people choose to increment the Buddhist era in January for convenience, some do it in at the start of the New Year (April 13 or 14), and others suggest doing it on Visak Bojea day. An article from the University of Phnom Penh suggests that the Buddhist era is incremented on Learng Sak day, the last day of the New Year.

April New Year

In order to explain why the New Year date is in April, we need to understand the solar calendar that was used in that period. A year is divided into 12 Reaseys. Reaseys are the divisions of the path of the Earth around the sun. These Reaseys are Makara Reasey, Khumpheak Reasey, and end with Tnou Reasey. See appendix for a complete list of Reaseys.

These Reaseys correspond to star constellations. Within the twelve Reaseys there is a star called Songkran or Chaitra. This star is selected as a dividing point to end the current year and start a new year. The star divides the Mena and Mesa Reasey.7) The Earth aligns with the star and the sun in a straight line on April 13 or 14 on the Gregorian calendar in recent years. This marks the day of the New Year.

As soon as the Earth enters Mesa Reasey, it is the first day of New Year called Songkran day. The calendar calculation from Mr. Roath Kim Seang shows how Loeung Sak date is calculated. Then we can calculate the time and day of week of the the Songkran. Using the same algorithm, we determine the length of Vonobot to know when the sonkran date took place.

Similarly, Laeoung Sak time is the date and time calculated by Horas to determine the ending of the celebration, thus determining if the celebration is 3 or 4 days long. Songkran Date (ថ្ងៃ​សង្រ្កាន្ដ) Calculation

Songkran date calculation is based on Leungsak day (ថ្ងៃ​ឡើងស័ក). Vonobot (វនប័ត) calculation determine if Vonobot day is the typically one day or the rare case of two days. Thus making Khmer New Year 3 days or 4 days (Vonobot has 2 days). From the Leungsak day, you subtract the Vonobot day(s) to find Songkran date. The Leungsak date used the calculation shown earlier in the Chhankitek calculation with additional conditions as follow.

Leungsak Day of the Week

Day of the week of Songkran Day called Pea (ពារ​ឡើងស័ក). It is calculated using the value from Ahkakun calculation.

 $ahk = get_akhakun($be_year);
 $pea = $ahk % 7;

Result of 0-6 is the day of the week where 0:Sat, 1:Sun, 2:Mon, .. 6:Fri.

Leungsak Date

Songkran date calculation use the value from Botethei calculation as follow:

$CHAET = 5;
$PISAK = 6;

$bot = get_botethei($be_year);
if ($bot >=6) {
   $month = $CHAET;
   # check for previous year for (type 3)
   $botleap = get_botethei_leap($ad_year - 1);
   if ($botleap == 3) { // uon case
} else {
   $month = $PISAK;
return array($bot, $month);

The result is the date $bot and the month $month. Songkran Calculation

The Songkran calculation has 3 sections (មធ្យម​ព្រះអាទិត្យ, ផល​លម្អិត, and សំផុត​ព្រះអាទិត្យ). Matyum (មធ្យម​ព្រះអាទិត្យ)

Matym calculation is based on Kromtopul value and Sotin with posible value of 363, 364, 365, and 366. Kromtopul is calculate as follow:

function get_kromtupol($js_year) {
 $t = $js_year * 292207 + 373;
 $ahk = floor($t / 800) + 1;
 $mod = $t % 800;
 $krom = 800 - $mod;
 return $krom;

With Kromtupol of a specific Jolsakarach (ចុលសករាជ្យ), the Maytum is calculated based on 4 values of Sotin. This calculation will result in Rasey (រាសី), Angsa (អ័ង្សា), and Liba (លិប្តា) as follow:

function matyom($krom, $sotin) {
 $d1 = ($sotin * 800) + $krom ;
 $rasey = floor($d1 /24350);
 $mod1 = $d1 % 24350;
 $angsa = floor($mod1 / 811);
 $mod2 = $mod1 % 811;
 $liba = floor($mod2/14) - 3;

 return array($rasey, $angsa, $liba);

PhalLumet (ផល​លម្អិត)

This calcuation determines the angsa and liba for sotin 363.

function phalLumet($mat) {
  $rdif = $mat[0] - 2; # always 9 since mat[0] is 11
  $adif = $mat[1] - 20;
  $ken = array($rdif, $adif, $mat[2]);

   switch($kenr) {
   case 0:
   case 1:
   case 2:
     $phal = array($kenr,0,0);
   case 3:
   case 4:
   case 5:
     $adijak2 = array(5,29,60);
     $phal = subtractR($adijak2,$ken);
   case 6:
   case 7:
   case 8:
     $six = array(6,0,0);
     $phal = subtractR($ken,$six);
   case 9:
   case 10:
   case 11:
     $tvea2 = array(11, 29 ,60);
     $phal = subtractR($tvea2,$ken);
     $phal = reduceR($phal);
   $kon = ($phal[0]*2)+1;
   $chaya = 129;

   $t = (($phal[1]-15)*60+30)*$kon;
   $lup = floor($t / 900);
   $t3 = $lup + $chaya;
   $angsa = floor($t3/60);
   $liba = $t3 % 60;

   $phal = array(0, $angsa, $liba);
   return $phal;

Somphot (សំផុត​ព្រះអាទិត្យ)

This tells about the Songkran date in the form of Rasey, Angsa, and Liba with possible value of (0, 0, 0-59) respectively.

function somphotSun($mat,$phal) {
   # mat + phal
   $sompot = addR($mat, $phal);
   $sompot = reduceR($sompot);
   return $sompot;

Based on the Somphot value for each Sotin (363, 364, 365, 366), we can determine if Vonobot has one or two days. Vonobot has two days if there is a duplicate Angsa value in the Somphot values.

# @return 0=no dup, 1=has dup
function isDupAngsa($somphotList) {
 $dup = array(0);
 for($i=0; $i<4; $i++) {
   $val = $somphotList[$i][1];
   $dup[$val]=$dup[$val] + 1;
 foreach($dup as $v) {
   if ($v > 1)
     return 1;
 return 0;

Determine if Sotin is 364 as follow:

#   Sompot Sun case 1: r11,h29,l(0-59), r0,h0,l(0-59), r0,h1..., r0,h2,...
#   case 1: new year sompot r0,h0.l(0-59) = sotin 364
function isSotin364($somphotList) { 
  if ($somphotList[0][0]==11 &&  $somphotList[0][1]==29 && 
    $somphotList[1][0]==0  &&  $somphotList[1][1]==0 && 
    $somphotList[2][0]==0  &&  $somphotList[2][1]== 1) {
    return 1;
  return 0;

Get Sotin value:

function getSotin($js_year, $krom) {
   $sotin = 363;
   $ad = getAD($js_year);
   $loop = 4;
   $somphotlist[0] = array(0,0,0);
   $old_sotin = $sotin;
   for($i=0; $i<$loop; $i++) {
     $sotin = $old_sotin + $i;
     $mat = matyom($krom,$sotin);
     $phal = phalLumet($mat);
     $somphot = somphotSun($mat,$phal);
     $somphotlist[$i] = $somphot;

   $dupAngsa = isDupAngsa($somphotlist);
   $sotin = 363;
   $sotin364 = isSotin364($somphotlist);
   if ($sotin364==1) {
     $sotin = 364;
   return array($sotin, $dupAngsa);

To put together, we have the full Songkran function as follow:

# return array of Songkran time and Vonobot value (1 or 2)
function get_songkran($ad_year) {
 $jsyear = convertADtoJS($ad_year);

 $krom = get_kromtupol($jsyear-1);
 $ad = getAD($jsyear);

 $sotinR = getSotin($jsyear, $krom);

 $sotin = $sotinR[0];
   $vonobot = 1;
   if($sotinR[1]==1) {
     $vonobot = 2;
     # vonobot has 2 days

 #matyom Sun
 $mat = matyom($krom,$sotin);

 $phal = phalLumet($mat);

 $somphot = somphotSun($mat,$phal);
 $liba = $somphot[2];
 $time = songkranTime($liba);

 $songkran = array();
 $songkran[0] = $vonobot;
 $songkran[1] = $time;
 return $songkran;

Songkran Time Calculation

Songkran time is based on the result of Liba (លិប្តា).

# ​Use liba from Somphot Sun
# @return array[hour, minute]
function songkranTime($liba) {
  if ($lipta > 59) {
   return "Error: lipta can't be greater than 59.";
  $lup = floor($lipta * 4 / 10);
  $rem = ($lipta * 4) % 10;
  $min = floor($rem * 60 / 10);
  $chour = 23;
  $cmin = 60;
  $min = $cmin - $min;
  $hour = $chour - $lup;
  $time = array($hour, $min);
  return reduceTime($time);

Songkran Time and Date Table

The following are list of Songkran time and date with Leoung Sak date.

Year in AD Year in JS Songkran Date Songkran Time Loeung Sak Date
1990 1352 ៤រោច ខែចេត្រ 03:36 ៦រោច ខែចេត្រ
1991 1353 ១កើត ខេពិសាខ 09:36 ៣កើត ខែពិសាខ
1992 1354 ១១កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 15:12 ១៣កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
1993 1355 ៨រោច ខែចេត្រ 22:00 ១០រោច ខែចេត្រ
1994 1356 ៤កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 04:24 ៦កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
1995 1357 ១៤កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 10:24 ១រោច ខែចេត្រ
1996 1358 ១០រោច ខែចេត 16:00 ១២រោច ខែចេត
1997 1359 ៦កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 22:48 ៩កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
1998 1360 ៣រោច ខែចេត 05:12 ៥រោច ខែចេត
1999 1361 ១៤រោច ខែចេត្រ 11:12 ២កើត ខែពិសាខ
2000 1362 ១០រោច ខែចេត 16:48 ១២រោច ខែចេត
2001 1363 ៥រោច ខែចេត្រ 23:36 ៨រោច ខែចេត្រ
2002 1364 ៣កើត ខែពិសាខ 06:00 ៥កើត ខែពិសាខ
2003 1365 ១៣កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 12:00 ១៥កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2004 1366 ៩រោច ខែចេត្រ 17:36 ១១រោច ខែចេត្រ
2005 1367 ៦កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 00:48 ៨កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2006 1368 ១រោច ខែចេត្រ 06:48 ៣រោច ខែចេត្រ
2007 1369 ១២រោច ខែចេត្រ 12:48 ១៤រោច ខែចេត្រ
2008 1370 ៨កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 18:24 ១០កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2009 1371 ៥រោច ខែចេត្រ 01:36 ៧រោច ខែចេត្រ
2010 1372 ១កើត ខែពិសាខ 07:36 ៣កើត ខែពិសាខ
2011 1373 ១១កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 13:36 ១៣កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2012 1374 ៧រោច ខែចេត្រ 19:12 ៩រោច ខែចេត្រ
2013 1375 ៤កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 02:24 ៦កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2014 1376 ១៥កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 08:24 ២រោច ខែចេត្រ
2015 1377 ១១រោច ខែចេត្រ 14:24 ១៣រោច ខែចេត្រ
2016 1378 ៨កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 20:00 ១០កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2017 1379 ៣រោច ខែចេត្រ 03:12 ៥រោច ខែចេត្រ
2018 1380 ១៤រោច ខែចេត្រ 09:12 ២កើត ខែពិសាខ
2019 1381 ១០កើត​ ខែចេត្រ 15:12 ១២កើត​ ខែចេត្រ
2020 1382 ៧រោច ខែចេត្រ 20:48 ៩រោច ខែចេត្រ

New Year Folklore

Khmer New Year tradition, believes and folklores intermingle tightly together. Cambodians practice the tradition and reinforcing their beliefs about heaven and earth, good and bad karma. The folklore about New Year reinforces this belief. Every New Year, they believe that one of the seven New Year angels came down to Earth. Based on the day of the week the New Year falls on, one specific angel is chosen. In addition, the folklore called “Sonkran Sote” entails such beliefs and brings forth the significance of the New Year angels. This folklore is also known by several names including “Dhommabal” and “Kabel Moha Prom”.

Songkran Sote (សង្រ្កាន្តសូត្រ)


Once upon a time there was a rich and powerful man who had a son named Dhammabal Koma. Dhammabal Koma completed his formal education by the age of seven and became the wisest of all men. Near a lake where all the birds nested stood Dhammabal's palace, a majestic structure built by his father. Dhammabal learned to communicate with the birds and won the respect from all who met him. His wisdom and teachings were well known throughout the region.

One day, the King of Heaven, Kobel Mohaprom, heard of Dhammabal's reputation and became envious. The King of Heaven decided to come down and challenge Dhammabal to a test of intellectual prowess in the form of three riddles. If Dhammabal answered correctly, the King of Heaven would cut off his own head. On the other hand, if Dhammabal could not answer, it would be Dhammabal's head that suffers the fatal blow. Dhammabal had seven days to solve the riddles.

After much deliberation, Dhammabal realized he was no closer to solving the riddles and it was already the sixth day. Frustrated and ashamed, Dhammabal decided to flee into the forest to kill himself before the seventh day had come and gone. On his way out of the palace, he stopped to rest under a palm tree and listened unnoticed to two eagles in deep conversation. The female eagle enquired to the male eagle about their upcoming morning meal. The male replied that they could feast on Dhammabal's flesh since Dhammabal will not be able to answer the riddles.

The female eagle asked what the riddles were and the male eagle replied:

  • 1. In the morning, where is happiness?
  • 2. At noon, where is happiness?
  • 3. In the evening, where is happiness?

The male eagle then continued to elaborate on the answers:

  • 1. In the morning, happiness lies in people's faces as they splash their faces with cool water and prepare to meet the new day.
  • 2. At noon, happiness is reflected on people's chests as they bathe to cool their bodies from the afternoon heat.
  • 3. In the evening, happiness exudes from people's feet as they wash their feet to rest from the toils of the day and get ready for bed.

After hearing the conversation, Dhammabal Koma happily returned to the palace and awaited the King of Heaven. True to his promise, Kobel Mohaprom cut off his own head, but before doing so, he called his seven daughters to him. The King of Heaven warned that if his head were to touch the earth, the earth would catch fire and if his head were thrown into the air, rain would cease and all living things on earth would perish. Nor should they allow his head to touch the ocean since this would cause the ocean to instantly evaporate. So he asked the seven daughters to take turns carrying his head on a platter.

After these dire warnings, Kobel Mohaprom cut off his own head and handed it to Tungsa, the eldest daughter. Tungsa placed her father's head on a platter and took it to Mount Someru. Tungsa and a trillion other angels circled Mount Someru before bringing Kobel Mohaprom's head to Kuntheakmali temple in heaven. The angels created a magical gathering place for angels to meet each year at Mount Someru. Every year during the Songkran, one of the seven daughters would take turns carrying their father's head in a ceremonial circle around Mount Someru before returning to the temple in heaven.

Thus, on the first day of the New Year, the Songkran date, a different New Year angel comes down to earth. Depending on which days of the week the Sangkran date falls, one of the seven angels will represent the coming year. Each angel has unique associations depending on the items they carry, animals they ride or the food they eat as described in Moha Songkran. Each unique angel determines the different events destined to occur in the coming year.

Khmer New Year Angels

There are seven different angels that represent each of the seven days the New Year falls on.9)


Tungsa Tevy is adorned with a ruby necklace. A pomegranate flower can be seen tucked behind her ear. On her right hand, she carries a disc of power and on her left hand she holds a shell. Her favorite food is the fig fruit. She rides on a garuda.


Koreak Tevy wears an aromatic flower Ankeabos tucked behind her ear and pearls around her neck. She drinks oil and carries a sword with her right hand and a cane with her left hand. Koreak Tevy rides the tiger.


Reaksa Tevy wears a lotus flower tucked behind her ear and precious stones around her neck. She drinks blood and carries a trident on her right hand. On her left hand, she carries a bow. Reaksa Tevy rides the horse.


Mondar Tevy wears a fragrant flower tucked behind her ear. Around her neck she wears cat's eye gemstones. She drinks milk and carries a needle on her right hand and a cane on her left hand. Mondar rides the donkey.


Keriny Tevy is adorned with the Mondea flower tucked behind her ear and an emerald around her neck. She favors beans and sesames for food. On her right hand she carries a harpoon and on her left she carries a gun. She rides the elephant.


Kemira Tevy wears a violet flower similar to a lotus flower tucked behind her ear. Around her neck, she wears precious gems. Banana is her favorite fruit. On her right hand she carries a sword and on her left a mandolin, a stringed musical instrument. Kemira rides the water buffalo.


Mohurea Tevy wears Trokeat flower tucked behind her ear and sapphires around her neck. She dines on deer meat. On her right hand, she carries a disc of power and on her left hand a trident. Mohurea rides the peacock.

New Year Tradition

There are a number of different cultural activities which take place during the New Year. The activities encompass the religious believes and other cultural aspects.

Looking back, Khmer songs from the 60s and 70s provide insightful details to capture the New Year traditions. A song by legendary Khmer singer Sothear Serey Ros called “Chnam Tmey Mok Dol Hauy” or “The New Year Has Arrived” described how a group of girls got ready for the New Year by curling their hair, getting new dresses and doing make up. The daughters implore their parents not to stop them because the New Year only comes around once a year. Even if parents do give a big fuss, they cannot stop the girls. Sothear described a three-day festival of singing and dancing. They play the traditional games like Chhoung and Teang Prot (tug-of-war). While having fun, the girls should not forget to offer foods to the monks for blessings in the next life. The song was sung with the beat of Roam Kbach–a slow traditional dance beat.

The song “Phamuorng Tortea” (a type of silk dress for women) also sung by Sothear described how the guys and girls interact in the New Year. The song begins by describing a girl on her way to the temple wearing Phamuorng (silk dress) while others play a tug-of-war game. The young men secretly peeked and admired the young women around them. The women, at the same time, peeked at the handsome young men garbed in their finest for the occasion to impress the girls. One of the young men then began to flirt with the girls. The song went on to describe how her new dress made her look irresistible and the men drooled over her.

A song “Ongkunh Khei Bei” (Ongkunh with 3 heads) by Samouth Sin, Sothear Ros and Ron Pen mentioned the Ongkunh game which typically played during the New Year and how it led to love and marriage. The song started with Samouth throwing the Ongkunh and hitting the target pieces of the women's team. As he threw the Ongkunh he tried to memorize the face of the girl in the women's team he wanted to jours (to hit the losing team member by using Ongkunh to tap on the knee cap). Her Ongkunhs were arranged in a 3-head type and if he won he would get to tap her. She responded that if he hit the head Ongkunh first, he will loose. When she won, she will Jours him instead. Then he compared the tapping on the knee to telling their relatives about them. As she gets to jours him, it is like knowing his feelings and he will remember her for the rest of his life. She requested him not to jours her too hard and to leave some for tomorrow. She told him to tell his aunt and uncle to ask her for her hand in marriage in the New Year.

In the song “Bos Chhoung Chnam Tmey”, Samouth and Sothear sang in a duet about the Chhoung game. This song is one of the actual beat and format used in playing the game as described in the later sections.

There are many various songs about dancing in the New Year such as “Roam Vong Chnam Tmey”, “Saravan Chhnam Tmey”, “Roam Leng Jole Chhnam”, “Khae Chaet Chole Chhnam”, and “Komsan Chhnam Tmey”. These selected oldies described the culture for the New Year and passed on to the next generation the joy and the celebration of the New Year.

Traditional Ceremonies

It is a common belief that life is full of mishap. People usually faced with the unfortunate events or sickness every day. To move away from those misfortunes, there is a need for a special ceremony with the chanting of monks and water sprinkling ceremony at the end of the year. So in the New Year, people change to new clothes and clean their home to feel that their bodies and souls are cleansed. They relax, have fun, and avoid thinking about the misfortunate events from the previous year. Thus, they begin a New Year with a new life full of prosperity.

Before the festival, people make several preparations to celebrate the New Year. They prepare food and items used in the ceremony. They prepare new clothes for themselves and others. They clean and decorate their home with colorful light bulbs or lamps with colorful decoration to welcome the New Year angel.

There is a belief that every New Year, one particular angel comes down to earth to represent the year. See more detail about New Year angle in the New Year folklore section. It is part of the tradition that people prepare items and food as offerings to the New Year angel. These items include:

  • a pair of baysei (banana trunk decorated with leaves rolled up in finger shape),
  • a pair of slathor (a decoration stand using banana leaf stem decorate with flower, betel leaves, areca nuts),
  • 5 dried areca palms,
  • 5 betel leaves,
  • 5 incenses,
  • 5 candles,
  • 2 bottles of perfumes,
  • flowers,
  • cigarettes,
  • rice,
  • water and drinks,
  • cake and variety of fresh fruit.

Food is selected especially to match the New Year angel’s tasteThe description of New Year angel including her favorite food, her jewelry, the animals she ride and the weapons she carries, are written by Hora. This writing is called Moha Songkran. . Like in 2006, in Cambodia the price of banana was predicted to go up twice as much because the Angel that year was described that she eats banana. [REA06] So people buy the banana as part of the angel offering. In addition to describing the angel, Moha Songkran includes prediction of events that will happen in the coming year. One part of the prediction includes specific astronomical events that Hora precisely calculated using astronomical calculation. Other aspects of Moha Songkran describe the tradition related to individual fortunes and the ancient predictions of major events that will happen during the year. The accuracy of the later part of the Moha Songkran depends on individual who view it.

During the preparation for the New Year or when the angel arrives, family members burn the incenses and candles; they spray the perfume to welcome the angel and wish for longevity, peace, and wealth.

During the New Year period, several religious ceremonies took place:

On day 1: (Songkran)

People bring food offering to the temple in the morning and then listen to monk chanting. In the afternoon, they take sand to build sand hill next to the temple or Bodhi tree. In the evening, people offer drinks to monks and invite monks to chant.

On day 2: (Vonabot)

Son and daughters give clothes, money, and food to their parents or grandparents. They also give donation to the less fortunate people. In the afternoon, they participate in the building of sand hill ceremony by praying in front of the sand hill. Then follow by the monks’ praying for the families and friends who passed away offering them the path to sanctity known as Bangskole. On day 3: (Laeng Sak)

In the morning, they invite the monks to complete the building of sand hill ceremony. In the afternoon, they take part in the bathing ceremony by giving bath to parent by showering them with water and clean their feet. In addition, they participate in the bathing the Buddha statue ceremony by pouring water with perfume over the Buddha statue. Then they pray for prosperity.

The significant of giving bath in the New Year is to get good deeds. They believe that giving bath to parents and teachers or monks resulted in the greatest good deeds. In addition, the fruit of good deeds from bathing the Buddha statue ceremony will result in many blessings in the next life. These blessings include having great beauty, wisdom, bravery, health and wonderful children. [PHE01]

In the belief of good deeds, Cambodians free the birds, fishes, turtle, chicken and rabbit, and etc. These animals and birds will bring them longevity, happiness and good health.

Building of Sand Hill Ceremony

The building of sand hill ceremony, known as Vealokchetei, symbolizes a stupa or cone shape structure used to store human remains. The sand hill structure represents a stupa called Cholamony Chaetdei where hair and diadem of Buddha were buried after his entry into Nirvana. This ceremony is believed to give the greatest fruit of good deeds for those who perform it. It can be seen in the folktales below.

According to [SIN03], the sand hill also symbolizes the relics of Buddha in India. The center of the big sand hill represents Mount Meru that stands for the center of the world. The other small hills represent the seven mountains that surrounded Mount Meru. Khmer people believe that each grain of the sand give the merit to those who perform this ceremony to be relieved of their misfortunes.

The process of building the sand hill is described in [PHE01]. It involved in bringing a big pile of sand to an area and shape into cones facing east. It is suggested to have one big hill in the center with 4 small hills located in the north, south, east, and west. Then create a Reajevat or fence decorated with coconut leaves creating entrances on 4 directions surrounded the hills. Around the fence, build 8 altars for the angels on all eight directions. On each altar, decorate with 2 Slathors, 2 one-level Bayseis, 5 candles, 5 incenses, 5 sets of betel leaves, areca nuts and cigarette, some grain, and flowers. Then burn the candles and pray to the angels.

In front of the sand hill outside the fence, construct 3 big altars to worship the Satan (king of the devils) in the center, Buddha to left, and Vishnou (principal Brahman deities) to the right. These three altars decorated similar to the angel's altars except using nine-level of Baysei instead of 2. They also have clothes and food as part of the offerings.

Sand Hill Folklores

There are three folktales describes by Sinhour Torn [SIN03]. One of the folklores mentioned about a sailor who went on a sailing trip one day found a white sand hill on a beach. He stopped and gathered all of his business partners to build the sand hill as a stupa and started to pray. Then they offered a flower to the sand hill and walked around 3 times to show respect and honor before continuing their trip. As a result of this gesture, they all went to heaven for several lives - generations. When they were born as human and they became kings. At the end, the sailor enters into Nirvana. This is the result of building sand hill.

The other story mentioned about a boy Komjil Ksach (lazy sand boy) who like to build sand hill every day at the beach. When the supreme God sees this, he then awards the boy with a beautiful princess. He later became a king with the princess as his wife as a result of building sand hill.

The next story will be described in more details. Once upon a time there was an old fisherman who fishes for a living since he was a young boy. He killed and ate all kind of fishes for a living and had never performed any good deeds.

One day, a monk who knew about the situation felt sympathized for the fisherman and wanted to help him doing good deeds. So the monk waited in the path of the fisherman with alms bowl hoping that the fisherman would offer rice to the monk as a good deed. In the morning, the fisherman carried a harpoon and a wrapped of rice on his way to find fishes as usual. As he passed by monk on his way, he initially declined to offer his rice to the monk. When the monk kept on asking for some rice, the hunter then agreed to offer part of his rice to the monk.

Years later, when the fisherman passed away, the king of the devils took him to interrogate about his past life. The Satan asked the fisherman if he had done any good deeds when he was alive. The hunter said he had never done any good deed. Then the Satan threw him into the fire of hell. But instead burning in the fire, the fisherman was rejected by the fire. The Satan was shocked so he asked again if the fisherman has ever done any good deeds. As the hunter saw the orange flame, he was reminded of the orange rob of the monk and told the Satan that he once gave some rice to a monk. Then the devil said if so he can go to heaven for one week and on the 8th day the devil will get him back to hell to pay for his sin.

Then the hunter was born in the heaven as prince named Anaknang Lokaksen with great wealth and had a wife named Sovann Orei. As Anaknang enjoyed his life on the sixth day, he remembered the Satan's words about the eighth day and started to worry. His wife saw his sad face started to ask him. After hearing the story, she told him not to worry since Buddha said that those who have sin can build a sand hill. The result of good deeds for building sand hill shall relief that person from the sin. So Anaknang build the sand hill and complete the ceremony by the 7th day.

On the eighth day, the Satan came to call on him. His wife came out to answer the call. She told the Satan that her husband performed the building of sand hill ceremony and all of his sins should be relieved. If the Satan wants to take her husband to hell, the Satan must count all the grain of sand from a cup. If he finished the counting, he can take her husband. The Satan thought that it would easy to do and agreed to count the grain of sand.

From the morning until the evening, the Satan continues to count the sand from the cup. He noticed that the pile of sand that he already counted piled into a hill as tall as a palm tree but the sand in the cup stayed about the same. Satan realized that he would never finish the counting so he gave up and left without Anaknang.

Anaknang continues to live in the heaven for the rest of his life enjoying his wealth and he company of his wife. This is the fruit of good deeds from performing the sand hill ceremony.

The Trot Dance

In recent years Trot Dance is becoming popular at the New Year festival. During the New Year festival in 2006, a professor from the University of Phnom Penh in Cambodia came to teach the dance to a group of performers in Long Beach for the celebration at El Dorado Park and the Cambodian New Year Parade along Anaheim Street.

The word Trot is from Sanskrit meaning to end, in this case to end the previous year. Trot is a traditional dance performed in an ancient format believed to ward off bad luck from the previous year. It is usually performed before the New Year festival. [SOT04]

This dance was inherited from the people of Somrae, natives of Cambodia thousands of years ago. During the Angkor era, the people of Somrae performed this dance for the king at New Year celebrations. The dance represents the ending of the old year and brings good luck and prosperity for the king in the coming year. [BUN04]

Trot is connected to a belief that wild animals that come into the village bring bad luck and misfortune. They created Trot which showcase wild animals, allowing villagers to spray perfume, put on makeup, and tie knots on the animals. Then they pray to the animals for good luck. This serves as prevention against bad luck when wild animals come into the village in the future. [SUM04]

There is also a belief that this dance symbolizes the prayer for rain. In this case, they prefer using the peacock tail to represent the sun. The people pray to the sun asking for rain for their farmlands. [SUM04]

The dance originated at a mountain side near the Tonle Sab in the province of Siem Riep. It was studied and performed by the Cambodian International Play between 1955 and 1960, according to the documents from Battambang province. [BUN04] Nowadays, the dance is usually found in Siem Riep and Battambang province. Eventually, additional characters were added–a singer performed as peacock and another singer performed as a spirit with long black nails. [SUM04]


Trot is related to two folktales. The first folktale is about a hunter.

Once upon a time there was a hunter named Bun who lived with his wife name Ubma in Savchey district. One day, the hunter went to hunt as usual but he could not find a single animal. He thought that maybe the forest spirits prevented him from finding the animals, so he prepared an offering and prayer to spirits to help him find animals. Suddenly he came upon a golden deer with golden yellow fur and antlers made out of shiny precious stones. He then shot and killed the deer. Upon retrieving the animal, he realized how beautiful it was and decided to offer it to the king. The king was delighted with the gesture and granted the hunter a rank as the district head. Afterwards, Bun created the Trot dance as a remembrance by making offering to the spirit of the forest. [BUN04]

Another folktale is related to Buddhism. Before Buddha attained enlightenment, he first became a monk. As he was on his way, an evil appears as a golden deer blocks his path. Buddha started to pray to an angel. The angel came down and appeared as a hunter to kill the golden deer and accompanied Buddha on his way to becoming a monk. [BUN04]


The front performer holds a kangcha which is a pole about 2.5 meters in height with the top portion shaped like a fork. The tips of the head are tied together by a string and decorated with dry fruit balls (Angkugn) with metal pieces inside which make noise when the pole is thumb on the ground. This performer provides the beat to the music with other musicians who use drums and two Tros (Tro Ou and Tro Saur - type of instruments used in classical Khmer music).

  • All performers start by first praying to the teachers.
  • The forest people come out running left and right in confusion outside the circle, typically in front of everyone else. Their bodies swing with the beat of the drum.
  • The hunter wears a banana trunk around his waist.
  • The person wearing the antlers represents the deer and dances in a similar fashion to the hunter and the forest people. His hands sometimes hold the antlers and sometimes hook to the front like the deer legs. He hops according to the beat swinging his head and sometimes run out of the circle.
  • The main character dancers wear colorful clothes and head dresses holding the tail of the peacock. The other two dancers dance very fluidly.
  • The girl with black nails helps to sing the song and also makes clicking sounds with her nails. The musicians with instruments swerve their bodies according to the beats.

The Trot song can be heard here: (

Another song with Trot style sang by Samouth Sin can be heard here: (KamplungLengTrot_Samouth.mp3).

Traditional New Year Games

There are several traditional games played during the Khmer New Year, including Teang Prut, Chaol Chhoung, Bos Ongkunh, Leak Konsaeng, Domderm Sluk Chaue, Sdach Jung, Kuorng/Ktey, Klaeng Jab Kone Mun, and Baykhom. Many of these games are played not just during New Year but at other gatherings as well.

In this section, I will discuss only a few games that I feel are popular during the New Year. These games are: Ongkunh, Chhoung, Teagn Prot, and Domderm Sluk Chaue.

Photograph by Sweet Mango Photography (


Ongkunh is a type of vine grown in Cambodia (mainly in Stung Treng and Kratie province). It consists of a large stem and contains large and lengthy fruits. [CHH67] Each fruit has several seeds that are circular and flat with 2 to 3 inches in diameter. As the fruit ripens, the seed becomes hard and smooth and turns dark brown. This seed is used for playing the game “Ongkunh”. The game is also known as “Boss Ongkunh” meaning to throw the Ongkunh.

There are two styles of the game played-the simple and the extended. The simple style consists of just throwing the Ongkunhs to hit the target Ongkunhs. The extended style adds five more stages in addition to the throwing stage. Both styles end with a penalty called Jours-activity that the winning team members get to perform on the losing team members.

Setup Phase

The players are divided into two teams, typically girls versus guys. Each team typically has the same number of people ranging from 2 to 10. There are two boundary lines about 10 to 15 feet apart where each team line up when they are ready to start. Before that, the teams need to decide which team starts to throw first and how many Kauy to play.

There are two types of Kauy-Kauy Boss (កោយបេាះ) and Kauy Dam (កោយដាំ) . Kauy Boss is the Ongkunhs used for throwing and Kauy Dam is the Ongkunhs used as targets. The team can select either 3 or 5 Kauys. If there are less people, three-Kauys are usually selected. Each player of the starting team will be given three or five Ongkunhs according to the number selected.

In addition, each team will take one extra set of Ongkunh for the Kauy Dam. Each team will use this set and will place them on the ground right in the front center of their boundary line in a “V” shape. At each spot that the Ongkunh is to be placed, make a shallow groove on the ground so the Ongkunh can be placed on the ring of the rounded corner. The Ongkunhs will stand up with the flat side facing the other team. See diagram below. For five-Kauys, some people set up in a rectangle shape with the main Kauy in the center.

Jours Phase

When each round is over, the winning team will get to “Jours” the loosing team. Jours in this game is to use the Ongkunh to tap the knee. The loosing team will line up behind their boundary line bending the knee forward. Each member of the winning team will Jours every member of the losing team.

There are two types of Jours–“By Trorjeak” (បាយត្រជាក់) and “By Kdao” (បាយក្ដៅ) meaning cold rice and hot rice respectively. This should be decided before the game begins. For By Trorjeak, place one Ongkunh on the knee flat on its side and use another Ongkunh to tap on top of the first Ongkunh. This should be a gentle tap. The tap should make a clicking sound.

For By Kdao, it is a harder hit. The winner uses two Ongkunh and holds them in one hand while hitting the knee such that it makes a clicking sound. This can be done by holding the first Ongkunh on the bottom of the palm using the little pinky finger and the ring finger to wrap around the circular edge of the Ongkunh. Then place another Ongkunh vertically so that the round edge almost meets the flat base of the first Ongkunh. Leave the gap from a quarter of an inch to a half of an inch. The second Ongkunh is to be held by the thumb and the index finger. Then hit the knee using the first Ongkunh and within impact the inertia of the second Ongkunh should hit the first Ongkunh and make a clicking sound.

If the clicking sound is not heard, the other person can thump the hitter instead. This repeats until one person is able to make the clicking sound.

Style 1: The Simple Style

This style is more popular since it is simpler to play. To begin, the team that goes first will throw the Kauy Boss to hit the Kauy Dam. The Kauy Dam on the root of the “V” shape is the main Kauy Dam. It can only be hit last after all other Kauy Dams are hit. The throwing team will try to hit as many Ongkunh as they can. A hit occurs when the Kauy Dam falls flat on its side. Sometimes a Kauy Dam is hit but it does not fall thus it does not count as a hit.

As the throwing team begins to throw, one of these three conditions can happen.

  • 1. If the throwing team hit all of the Kauy Dams and hit the main Kauy Dam last, the team wins and the team will proceed to Jours the other team. This round of the game is over.
  • 2. If the throwing team runs out of the Ongkunh Boss and did not hit all or any of the Kauy Dam, the other team will become the throwing team instead. When switching turns, the Kauy Dam is left untouched. This cycle repeats until all of the Kauy Dams are hit or the main Kauy Dam is hit out of order.
  • 3. If the main Kauy Dam is hit out of order, this round is over. The throwing team loses and will be penalized in the Jours phase.

Style 2: The Extended Style

This style of play is based on [PHE04A] and has 6 stages. You start with stage one and move on to the next stage in sequential order. Before you move to the next stage you must hit all of the Kauy Dam according to the procedure for each stage. If the throwing team is going to the next stage, all of the Kauy Boss's are returned to the throwing team and all of the Kauy Dams are setup again.

There are three penalty conditions that the throwing team needs to avoid. If any of three conditions occurs or the throwing team runs out of the Ongkunh, the team switches the play and the other team becomes the throwing team. The three conditions for the throwing team to avoid are:

  • 1. Reas (រះ) : the Kauy Boss (throwing Ongkunh) hit more than one Kauy Dam in one throw.
  • 2. My (មាយ) : the Kauy Boss hit the already fell Kauy Dam.
  • 3. Gnee-gnaey (ងីងេី) : the Kauy Boss hit the Kauy Dam but Kauy Dam did not fall on its side.

When any of these conditions occur, the Kauy Dams should be left untouched and the throwing team will lose the turn and give all the Kauy Boss to the other team. Each team will continue at the same stage that they were on before the turn was over.

Here are the stages:

  • 1. Boss: (បេាះ) The throwing team will stand and hold the Ongkunh in their hands. The players throw Kauy Boss to try to hit one Kauy Dam at a time avoiding the three conditions above. In addition, if the Kauy Boss hit the Kauy Dam out of the groove and Kauy Boss went into the groove, the Kauy Boss becomes Kauy Dam. This is called “Kob” (កប់) - to bury. This throw is considered a miss or “Sa-oiy” (ស្អុយ) ) and the other team gets to place it deeper in the groove making it harder to hit.
  • 2. See Kole: (ស៊ីគោល)

The throwing team crouch down and extend one knee forward to use the thigh as a surface to place the Ongkunh. Then use the pointing finger or middle finger to flick the Ongkunh by using the other hand to pivot the flicking finger to aim the Ongkunh at the Kauy Dam. If you hit a Kauy Dam you move on to try to hit another Kauy Dam. The three penalty conditions still apply.

If the Kauy Boss lands near of the Kauy Dam about one finger stretch or less, the thrower asks the other team to choose “Want” or “Gnab” (វ័ន ឬ ងាប់) . If the other team chose “Want”, the thrower places his/her thumb on the end of the Kauy Boss and move the pointing finger toward the Kay Dam to flick it and cause the Kauy Dam to fall. If the other team choose “Gnab”, the thrower stands next to the Kauy Boss and picks up the Kauy Boss and slam on the Kauy Dam to make it fall. The thrower gets one chance to make the Kauy Dam fall. If the Kauy Dam falls, it is considered a hit.

If the Kauy Boss lands further away, the thrower tries again with another Ongkunh by kneeling down instead and flick the Ongkunh from the thigh. If the Kauy Boss lands close to Kauy Dam about one finger stretch or less follow the above process. In this shot, if the Ongkunh hit the first Kauy Boss, the thrower will have to redo the last two shots using a process called “Kauy Srorleang” (កោយស្រលៀង) (cross-eyed Kauy) and “Kauy Kvak” (កោយខ្វះ) blind Kauy). This process allows the thrower to redo the last two shots by flicking with one eye closed and then follow by the flicking with two eyes closed.

  • 3. See Parate: (ស៊ីប៉ារ៉េត)

This stage is similar to the See Kole except the player flicks from the ground instead of from the thigh. The penalty rule is also applied the same way as See Kole.

  • 4. Trorkorng: (ត្រកង)

This stage involves rolling the Ongkunh on the ground using the same format as the first stage. There are two methods-Trorkorng Thub (cling and hold), Trorkorng Cha (cling and redo) to be decided before the game begins.

For Trorkorng Thub, the thrower rolls the Ongkunh on the ground toward the target without passing the last Kauy Dam. Then the thrower runs after it and stops the Ongkunh by using the palm to cover the Ongkunh before it stops moving. If the Ongkunh stops before you cover it or you do not cover it completely, this round is over and the team will switch play. If the Ongkunh pass the last Kauy Dam or hit any of the Kkauy Dam, it is considered as a miss. The fallen Kauy Dam will be replaced. If you cover it successfully, you will then flick using your pointing finger or the middle finger from the ground to hit a Kauy Dam.

For Trorkonrg Cha, it does not require to run after and cover it. You will let it stop but it cannot hit the Kauy Dam or pass the last Kauy Dam. If it does, it is considered a missed. Then use the finger to flick from the ground to the Kauy Dam and attempt to hit it.

  • 5. Jak Ktaek: (បាក់ខ្ទែក)

In this stage you can take one step forward (need to be decided beforehand), then place one Ongkunh on top of the foot. Next, take two steps forward starting with the foot that has the Ongkunh. On the final step, you can swing the foot with the Ongkunh so that the Ongkunh flies off the foot toward the target. The objective is to hit the Kauy Dam.

If the Ongkunh fell off the foot during the first two steps, the player can repeat the procedure, but with a penalty called “Bak Kho Lean Ondat” (បាក់ក លៀនអណ្ដាត) (breaking the neck and sticking out the tongue). The player will redo the shot by looking up to the sky instead of looking at the target and sticking out the tongue. The Kob penalty (when the Kauy Boss hits the Kauy Dam out of its groove and takes its place) is also applied in this stage in addition to the three general penalties.

  • 6. Boss Jours: (បេាះជេាះ) This is a repeat of the first stage. When the team finishes this stage, they will proceed to Jours and the round of the game is over.


Vann Pheng suggested that this game probably has hidden meanings relating to agricultural phenomenon. The Kauy Boss possibly represents the rain drop and the Kauy Dam is the plant that grows because of the rain. Ongkunh is also considered a game of the animal and plant's spirits. During the rice growing season, people give offering to the spirits wishing for rain. In the offerings, they include Ongkunh as one of the offerings.

It may be worth mentioning that in Khmer the word “Ongkunh” has a several meanings. Ongkunh is a type of the vine that produces the seed used in the Ongkunh game. It also refers to a knee bone or knee cap. The Ongkunh used in this game is shape like a knee cap and the Jours is to hit the loser's knee cap.

Chhoung ( )

Chaol Chhoung or Boss Chhoung means to throw the Chhoung - a piece of scarf rolled into a ball of the size of a bare coconut and tied at the end to form a tail used for holding and throwing. The game is also known as Chhoung.

This game is the most popular game out of all the traditional games played during the New Year [PHE04C] because it showcases poetic conversation in the form of songs. The lyrics can be funny, direct, or can show passionate feelings between young men and women. As a tradition, the New Year is an opportunity for boys and girls to meet each other. This game gives an opportunity for them to tease each other and show their feelings for one another.

The general meaning of this game can be found in the following folktale. [PHE04C]


Once upon a time there was a warlord born from a doe. His father was a Brahman. This warlord was so powerful that he decided to cause drought in the Karsey kingdom. Even when the king continually prayed for rain, there was no rain. One day, a supreme being (Indra) came to tell the king that if he wanted rain he must destroy the warlord's power by sending his daughter, the princess Nealinika, to seduce him. When she arrived, the warlord was not home, so she decided to play Chhoung for fun with her entourage. When the warlord returned home, he saw her and fell in love with her. He subsequently lost his power and rain fails normally over the Karsey kingdom once more.

Chhoung is believed to create passion and attraction between the men and women who play the game. In an earlier tradition in the southern part of India, before a couple gets married, they need to play Chhoung every night. This custom became a practice of recreation as men and women sing in duet format. [PHE04C]

The Game

The game is played by two teams of boys and girls, usually 10 to 20 people per team. Each team stands about 30 feet apart. There are two styles of play, Chhoung Jreang and Chhoung Louss. However, there is a third style that I used to play as a young boy.

Style 1: Chhoung Jreang (Singing Chhoung) ( )

This style can be related to the Khmer classic song “Bos Chhoung Chnam Tmey” ( ) where the singing begins after the Chhoung is tossed and caught by a team member. This song can be used as rhythm for the actual singing in the game.

The game begins after they agree which team to toss first. A member of this team will hold the Chhoung.

  • 1. The team with the Chhoung (the tossing team) will say the phrase “Chhoung Eiy Chhoung” () and then toss the Chhoung in a high arch to the opposite team.
  • 2. If the opposite team did not catch the Chhoung, this team will begin step 1.
  • 3. If the opposite team caught the Chhoung, this team (the throwing team) will throw at a member of the other team to try to hit this person. It is preferred that you aim at a person you are interested in.
    • 1. If the Chhoung hit the other team member, they will sing and dance to give the Chhoung back to the throwing team. This process is called Jreang Roam Joun Chhoung ( ) (Sing and dance to return the Chhoung). The process is led by the person who got hit by the Chhoung, carrying it with him/her as he/she dances and is followed by the team members. When reaching the other team, the Chhoung is returned to the throwing team. Now the throwing team will start step 1.
    • 2. For the girl's team, the lead person will sing in the form: “Ohn jab chhoung ban Chhoung baek chea bourn, proleung pros snguon totuorl Chhoung tov” ( ) [I caught the Chhoung and it break into four. My love, please take the Chhoung]. Then it is followed by the rest of the team members repeating: “Oah na keo na, keo pe-ah, keo eiy ei earng eiy.().
    • 3. For the boy's team, the lead person will start with: “Borng jab chhoung ban, borng bei trokorng, proleung meas borng toturol choung tov () [I caught the Chhoung in my hand and caress it, my sweetheart, please take the Chhoung.] The rest of the team will repeat the same words as the girl’s team in the repeat section.
    • 4. If the Chhoung did not hit anyone, the throwing team will get the Chhoung back and will start the first step.
  • 4. This game repeats until they agree to quit.
Style 2: Chhoung Lous (Free-Your-Partner Chhoung[KI05]) ( )

This style begins with a song called BrobThai( ). The lyrics are different depending on the region. The popular lyric is: “Borng boss Chhoung Tov ohn ey kompung Jung dong (repeat) kromom cho jrong ohn ey totourl choung borng” () (I toss the Chhoung, it went as high as the coconut tree, and many girls standing there caught my Chhoung). For the girl's lyrics, it goes: “Ohn bos choung tov borng eiy kompus jung Sla (repeat) Pros Chor Treaptra, Borng Eiy totuorl Chhoung ohn” () (I toss the Chhoung up and it went as high as the betel plant, all the guys standing around receive my Chhoung). [PHE04C]

The game starts with the following as suggested by [PHE04C]:

  • 1. The team with the Chhoung begins the game by singing BorbKhai song with one of the lyrics above that applies to them.
  • 2. This team, called the tossing team, will say the phrase, “Chhoung Ey Chhoung” () and then toss the Chhoung in a high arc to the other team to catch.
  • 3. If the opposite team did not catch the Chhoung, that team will go to step 2.
  • 4. If the opposite team caught the Chhoung, that team, now called the throwing team, will throw the Chhoung attempting to hit a person in the tossing team. a.If the Chhoung hits a tossing team member, the throwing team will win one person. When a team wins a person, that team can do one of the following that apply: i.If that team lost any of its members to another team, the winning team can take one of their team members back. ii.If they did not loose any of their members, this team will take the person they just hit as a prisoner. The prisoners are to stay in the front line of the winning team to help protect the team from being hit when the other team is throwing. They sometimes blindfold the prisoners. b.If it does not hit any of the tossing team members, the throwing team will get the Chhoung and go to step 2.
  • 5. The cycle repeats until one team wins all of the members from the opposite team. When a team wins, the round is over and the other team that did not begin the game last time will begin the game with step 1.
  • 6. The game is over until the teams agree to quit.

Note that for a fast game, the team can choose to skip step 1.

Style 3:
  • 1.The team that agreed to start will hustle together to decide on the lyrics. They will start by singing a short phrase of a song in the form of (I throw the Chhoung and the Chhoung landed on top of [something], the girl/guy [with certain features] prepares to catch my Chhoung.) This is the best part of the game where it allows the players to tease the other team. The play on words can be funny, direct, or passionate depending on the players. There are other variations of stress in the beat. The beat can follow Samouth Sin and Sothear Ros's song which can be downloaded from here: [].
  • 2. As the song ends, they will follow with the phrase: “Chhoung Eiy Chhoung”. At the end of the phrase, one player who holds the Chhoung by the tail will swing and let it fly up to the other team. This toss is supposed to be in a high arc landing around the area of where the other team stands. If it lands too far away, the other team can request a re-throw. Just repeat step 2 for the re-throw.
  • 3. If the other team was not able to catch it and it touches the ground, that team will start from the first step.
  • 4. If a player catches the Chhoung, that player will run up a few steps to the line marker and throw the Chhoung to try to hit the other player without giving the other player a chance to catch it. If the Chhoung hits the player and lands to the ground, this round is over and proceeds to the penalty phase.
  • 5. If the Chhoung is caught instead by the other player, that player can throw back to the other team. This continues until it falls to the ground.

The game repeats until the teams decide to quit.


The penalty in this style is called Roam Jours (). The loosing team has to sing any Roam Vong (circle dancing) song and clap their hands to the beat while the winning team dances across the field toward losing team to Jours. The Jours begins when the members of the losing team put out one of their hands forward and open the palm. Then the people from the winning team use their hand to slap the palm. Each person from the winning team gets to Jours every member of the loosing team.

Leak Konsaeng (Hiding the Scarf) ( )

This is the most popular game of all the traditional games. It can be played not just during the big festival such as Khmer New year but at any time when teenagers get together. This game is also played by adults especially during the New Year. [VANN04]

This game uses a scarf that is twisted on each end in opposite directions then folded in half to form a twisted rope. The ends are tied together as a knot to hold the twisted scarf. The end knot is served as a tail used for gripping and swinging by players. Players can swing to hit another player typically from the waist down as agreed by the team.

In this game all of the players will sit down on the ground facing the center of the circle. The number of players in this game can be five players or more. With more players, the circle becomes bigger to accommodate the seating. Boys and girls usually sit in alternate positions. When forming the circle the players cannot leave a big gap between each other.

There are two styles of play that I am aware of. The first style is the one that I usually play.

Style 1

Initially, the team will choose a person, called the hider to hide the scarf.

  • 1. The hider starts off by walking outside the circle holding the scarf behind his/her back in a counter clockwise direction. As the hider walks around, he/she will sing the Leak Konsaeng song while the people sitting down clap their hands and sing at the same time. The wordings are “Leak Kkonsaeng Chma Kham Kaeng OsLorng OsLogn” ( ) (hiding the scarf, the cat bites the angle, dragging your feet away). This song repeats until the hider sits down. Before the hider sits down, he/she would have dropped the scarf behind another player's back in a concealed way. Then the hider finishes his/her last round around the circle and proceed to sit down at his/her original place.
  • 2. When the hider sist down or no longer holds the scarf, this signals that the hider already dropped the scarf behind another player. At this point, every player should use their hands to check behind their back for the scarf without looking. The player with the scarf is called the hitter. The hitter will pick up the scarf and proceed to hit the next player to the right.
  • 3. The player to the right of the hitter will run around the circle in the counter clockwise direction until finding his/her original seat and sit down. While this person is running around the circle, the hitter can run after this person and hit repeatedly until this person sits down.
  • 4. If the hitter does not discover the scarf quick enough, a player to the left of the hitter can pick up the scarf and become the hitter and start hitting the intended hitter.
  • 5. Now the person who holds the scarf will become the hider and repeat step one again.

This cycle continues until the team decides to quit.

Style 2

In style 2, the hitter is identified differently.

  • 1. This step is the same as step one in style 1.
  • 2. After the hider drops the scarf behind the back of a player and the player does not discover the scarf, the hider will continue walking the entire circle back to the player. Then the hider can pick up the scarf and hit the player. The player will now get up and run around the circle and comes back to sit down in the original position.
  • 3. If the player discovers the scarf behind his/her back, the player can pick it up and start hitting the hider until the hider sits down at the player's original spot.
  • 4. Now the person with the scarf can begin step 1 again.

The game continues until the team decides to quit.

In the second style, the hider can go around the circle in any direction and can even switch back and forth while trying to drop off the scarf. In style 1, the direction is uniform and should be agreed upon in the beginning.

The main distinction between these two styles is that in style 1, the player can choose to sit to the left of another player whom he/she chooses to hit before the game begins. While in style 2, the hider can choose to drop off the scarf behind any player.

Donderm Sluk Chaue ( )

This game is similar to stealing the bacon but in this case players are to compete for a piece of tree branch. You can use a tree branch of about one foot long but it can also be a scarf used for other games such as Chhoung. Setup

There is one referee who will host the game. The players are divided into two equal teams, usually boys against girls, but the teams can be mixed as well.

Each team will stay about 30 feet apart by line markers. In the center, half way point between each team, the referee will draw a circle as a marker to place the tree branch.

Each team will assign a number to its players from 1 to the total number in the team. The team can choose to stand in order of the number or can be in any order.

The game begins by the referee calling a number from 1 to the max number of player in a team. The player of that number from each team will run to the center and try to grab the tree branch. The players are typically on the opposite side of the circle from each other to protect the tree branch and to easily tag the other player who chooses to grab it.


The player with the number called, will try to grab the tree branch and run back to the team line marker without being tagged by the other team. While the player is holding the tree branch, the other player can tag this player.

The player who grabs the tree branch can release the branch before getting tag and be safe from tagging. This rule can vary. But the player cannot throw the branch to another location except to drop it. Each player can pick up the tree branch at any time.

The referee may choose to call more players to help by calling other numbers. The popular rule is that the player can only tag the other player of the same number. This can create confusion and requires coordination. The referee may choose to call everyone to help.

When a player gets tagged or a player successfully steals the branch to the team marker, the round is over. A point is given to the team who successfully steals the branch or the team that tags the other team. The referee then announces the score before starting again by placing the tree branch back in the center marker.

The game is over when is a certain agreed score is reached. Then the loosing team will be penalized as agreed upon.


The typical penalty is for each player of the loosing team to give a piggy back ride for another player in the winning team. Another penalty is Jours where the players of the loosing team line up and put the hand forward in an open palm. Each player of the other team then pats the palms of all loosing team players.

A trick to this game is that the referee may call the number in an obscure way to give advantage to players who know the trick. One obscure way is using a different language to call out the number or using an object to represent a number. The referee should then use the appropriate language after a few seconds.

Teagn Prot (Tug-of-War) ( )

Teagn Prot is a tug-of-war game with teams of boys and girls pitting their strengths by pulling on the rope. Teagn Prot has a number of significant stories in Khmer culture as seen in the folktales below. Its hidden meanings extend into historical and religious realms.

Folktale 1

One upon a time there was a group of giants who felt that the angels did have more power than them but the angels were more powerful because the Siva (supreme divine being) blessed the angels with power. The team of giants boasted that the angels would lose in a competition of strength. As the angels heard that, they replied that they were not afraid. The giants and the angels agreed to pit their strengths against one another in a tug-of-war competition. If the giant won, the giants will receive higher status by sitting in a higher location than the angels including those times they met with Siva.

The angels were walking back and forth in front of Siva's courtyard trying to figure out a sure way to win the competition when Pealy - the King of the monkey who was aware of the competition - told them of a trick that guaranteed victory.

The next day, the competition between the angels and giants begin. The rope used in the competition was the serpent. The angels requested to have the head side of the serpent and the giants agreed. The angles used the trick mentioned by Pealy which is to have one angel use his finger to rub the belly button of serpent. As the serpent is tickled it swings its tail back and forth loosening the grips of the giants at the tail-end. The angels won the tug-of-war.

There is a proof of this competition in the Angkor Wat bas-relief depicting the serpent stretched along the wall with the angels holding the head side and the giants holding the tail side.

Angkor Wat bas-relief depicts the angels on the left and the giants on the right pulling on the serpent.

Folktale 2

The giants and angels came together to stir and dry out the ocean to get the elixir of life so that they could live forever. They used a serpent named Vasuki as the rope to move and turn Montakrak Mountain. Vishnu, a powerful god, turned himself into a turtle to prop up the mountain. The angels pulled at the head of the serpent while the giants pulled at the tail. When turning, the serpent got dizzy and threw up the balk poison and breathed fire through its tongue. This creates rain in the celestial sphere.

Game Setup

This game requires a 30 feet rope the size of a small wrist and a noise making tool such as a drum to signal the start of the game.

You divide the players into two teams of at least 5 to 10 people per team. This is usually the girls vs. guys. Each team does not necessary have the same number of people but rather depends on size and strength. The rule of the thumb is to have at least 2 more people on the girl's team than the guy's team. The suggested arrangement is to use the strongest people at the end of the robe and at the front of each team. [PHE04T]

On the rope, mark the center by tying a color knot. The rope is laid in a straight line and each team will take one side about 5 feet passed the center mark.

To start, the person with the drum stands in the center between the two teams and yells “Yeak Orr” ( ) with a long drawn-out manner. Then the teams will yell “Ho Vueyyy” ( ) in a similar style. This is repeated three times then the drum beats the signal for the teams to start pulling. As the game starts, the drummer can continue to beat to assist the teams. [PHE04T]

When a team is pulled over where the color knot passes the marked line, the other team wins the game.


This game probably has a hidden meaning relating to rain worship. In the top folktale, the serpent represents the rain. In India, the serpent is the bridge to connect people to the gods and is also symbolized by the rainbow. The rainbow is the entity that sucks in the water to create rain. Thus pulling the rope in the Teagn Preat game is like pulling the serpent to make rain and is also known as the rain-making ceremony. [PHE04T]


Khmer lunisolar calendar makes use of arithmetic calculations more so than astronomical events. Both the Hindu lunisolar calendar and the Chinese calendar are based strongly on astronomical events which make it more complicated for predicting the number of days per month or determining the leap year with an extra month. Khmer calendar has a set number of days for each month similar to the Gregorian calendar. In addition, the leap year with an extra month is always added to the month of Ashad and leap-day year is always Jays.

The calculate for Loeung Sak and Songkran day is very intertwined for this calendar system. The Songkran day is based on Loeung Sak day.

Khmer calendar is different from the old Hindu lunisolar calendar. Although the names of the month are derived from Sanskrit, the calendar does not use the same system. Out of the all the calendrical systems that were referenced in Reingold and Dershowitz, none of them match the Khmer calendar system. Neither is the Khmer calendar derived from the Chinese calendar. A similar type of calendar exists in Thai and Lao.

Khmer calendar uses a unique system of identifying the year with Sak in conjunction with animals to form a 60-year cycle. This system is a little different from the Chinese system since Khmer use Sak with numeric meanings from 1 to 10 and Chinese use basic elements such as Earth, Fire, Water, Wood and Metal. This 60-year cycle is not used in the Hindu calendar system. Stone carvings on Angkor monuments indicate that the system was in use throughout the Angkorian era.[EVE00]

Khmer New Year is also fascinating in its own rights. It involves numerous cultural activities and beliefs. A New Year folktale called “Songkran Sote” describes Khmer belief in New Year angels, which lead to Moha Songkran, an ancient prediction to take place. Depending on the day of the week that Songkran occurs, a different New Year angel symbolizes the year. Different angels characterize unique events to occur for each year.

In addition to the New Year celebration, Chhankitek calendar also showcase and reflect significant aspects of Khmer culture. Many Cambodian holidays such as Pchum Ben, a celebration to commemorate the dead, is determined by the Khmer lunisolar calendar system. The calendar also captures cultural changes and beliefs as seen in the evolution of the New Year celebration.



Cambodians use both Sak and animals to reckon the year. Below is a table of animal years and Saks with corresponding years in different eras.


Calculating Sak from different eras

From Jolak Sakaraj, take a modulus of the year by 10 and the remainder is the Sak. If the remainder is 0, then it implies 10. For example: 2004 AD is 1366 JS. So 1366 mod 10 is 6 which is Chor Sak.

From BE, subtract the year by two then take the modulus of 10. The result is the Sak number just like above. For example in 2004 AD, the BE is 2548. So (2548 - 2) mod 10 is 6 which is Chor Sak.

Finding an animal year from a given era

For BE, the year 1 BE starts as Masagn (year of the snake). To find the animal year, add 5 to BE and take a modulus of 12. The result is the index number of an animal year. For example: For 2004 AD, 2548 BE + 5 is 2553. Then 2553 mod 12 is 9. The ninth animal is Voke (Monkey).

Jolak Sakaraj starts the first year as Koar (year of the pig). To find the animal year, add 11 to the era then take a modulus of 12. The result is the index number of an animal. For example: For 2004 AD, 1366 +11 is 1377. Then 1377 modulus 12 is 9. Voke (Monkey) is the 9th animal.


Below is a list of common Khmer art that represent the 12 animals.


1. Lunar Month

Khmer lunar months are represented using Reak. According to Horas, Reak is group of star constellations that represent each month. Below is a list of lunar months with corresponding Reaks and the number of days.

2. Solar Month

Khmer solar month corresponds to western zodiac symbols. A year is divided into 12 Reaseys. Reasey is the measurement of the path of the sun and the moon that is divided into 30 degrees each. Below is a list of months and its meaning

Days of the Week

The table below shows the day of the week and its corresponding planets or celestial bodies. Color for Khmer traditional attire for each day of the week is also listed.


1.Lunar Season ()

This season is based on the lunisolar calendar. There are only 3 seasons defined per year. [CHH67]

2.Solar Season

There are four seasons based on the solar calendar. [CHH67]

3.Ancient Season ()

The ancient seasons are not used today but it is shown here as a reference. There are 6 ancient seasons. [CHH67]

Traditional Ways of Counting Age

An animal year can be traced from one's age or vice versa. The tradition methods typically uses fingers to count with specific instructions.

1.Find your age from the animal year

This assumes that you have some idea of how old you are in a range of 10 years. Use the table on the right to determine the number to count for a specific age.

  • 1. Use your multiple of ten of your age to determine the count. Example, for the age around 30, the count is 6.
  • 2. Start from your birth animal year and count to the successive animal year for the number of time found in step 1. Example, assume I was born on the year of Dog (Jor) and I am around 30. So I would count 6 times as Kaor, Jute, Chlov, Karl, Thos, and Rorng. Notice I didn’t count Jor as 1 but count Kaor instead.
  • 3. Now use your finger to keep track of the count, and continue until you reach the current year. The final count is added to your multiple of ten number of your age. Example: Continue from step 2, I would count, Masagn as 1, Momee as 2, Momay as 3, Voke as 4, and Roka as 5. If the current year is Roka, then I stop here. There so I am 30 + 5 or 35 years old.

Example for birth year of Jor and assume this year is Roka:

2.Find animal year from your age [C4]

The 12 orange dots are the different positions used in this method. The animal years are positioned for the year of Roka (2005). This varies from year to year. The current animal year starts at “Current Year” arrow (second knuckle of the pointing finger) and counts clockwise to the successive years. The flower star is where you start if the age is at least 10 years old or else start at the blue star marked as 1 going counter clockwise up to 9.

  • 1. Assume you are older than 9 years old, start counting from the tip of the pointing finger (flower star) clockwise every second position. You count just the multiple of ten such as 10, 20, 30, and 40 until it reaches a multiple of ten of a specific age. As an example, for 35, I would count 10, 20, and then 30.
  • 2. If the age is a multiple of ten, that was your final position. Else, count from the current position by backward (counter clockwise) one position at a time until it reaches a specific age. So for the 35, from my early position, I count counter clockwise 31, 32, 33, 34, and then 35 arriving at the dot marked “11 Jor”.
  • 3. The last step is to determine what animal belongs to that final position. For 2005, the animals are already marked. For a different ear, start counting the current year animal at the brown arrow *. Count clockwise until it reaches your final position. That is the birth animal year for that age.

Notes: This method has been modified. The original method is to start positioning the year at the five-star (lowest point of the pointing finger). But this missed by one year; so to make it works I move the start position up to the Current Year arrow.

Religious Events

Here is a list of common Khmer religious day based on [C4]. Many of these are holidays in Cambodia but some are not.

  • 1. Meak Bochea (មាឃបូជា) : 15 Keit of Meak (Magha). A celebration of the Meak month to remember the monks meeting representing 4 different entities.
  • 2. New Year (ចូល​ឆ្នាំ​ថ្មី ): This does not base on lunar calendar. Cambodian New Year celebration occurs on April 13 or 14 to April 15 or 16. This occurs no earlier than 4 Keit of Chait and no later than 4 Keit of Visak (Vaisakha). It is one of the biggest holiday celebrations.
  • 3. Pisak Bochea (ពិសាខបូជា): 15 Keit of Visak/Pisak (Vaisakha). The offering of the month Visak. This is a celebration of the birthday of Lord Buddha.
  • 4. Jole Preah Vosa (ចូល​ព្រះ​វស្សា): Occurs on 1 Roja of Ashad or 1 Roaj Thutiyasadh for leap-month year. This signifies the entering into the rainy season.
  • 5. Jegn Preah Vosa (ចេញ​​ព្រះ​វស្សា or ចូល​វស្សា): Occurs on 15 Keit of Asuj. It means the end of the rainy season.
  • 6. Kann Ben 1st -14th (កាន់​បិណ្ឌ): Occurs on 1 Roaj to 14 Roaj of Phutrobot. This is the commemoration of the spirits of the dead. The commemoration takes place in the temple from day 1 to day1 4. It is also known as Dak Ben.
  • 7. Pjum Ben (​ភ្ជុំ​បិណ្ឌ): After the day 14 of Kann Ben, on 15 Roaj of Badrapadha, Pjum Ben occurs. It means the combination of all Ben or commemoration of the spirits of the dead.
  • 8. Kathin (កឋិន): Occurs on the day after Jegn Preah Vosa on 1 Roaj of Asuj. The festival centers on the temple to give offering to the monks.
  • 9. Sompeas Preah Khae (សំពះ​​ព្រះខែ): Occurs on 15 Keit of Kardek. This is a traditional celebration since the ancient time. It means to give respect to the moon.

Khmer Terminologies

  • Adhikameas: (អធិកមាស): A leap year with extra month. The month of Ashad becomes two months: Badhamasad and Thutiyasad) with 30 days each. This leap-month year has 384 days compare to a normal 354-day year.
  • Adhikavereak: (អធិកវារៈ): A leap year with extra day. Jays has 30 instead of 29. The Adhikavereak year has 355 days. This is also known as Chhantrea Thimeas.
  • Ashad Thum (អាសាធ​ធំ): Translated as big Ashad. This is a common term for Adhikameas. See Adhikameas.
  • Ashad Toch (អាសាធ​តូច): It is translated as small Ashad. It refers to a non-leap year where Ashad month is a single month.
  • Ayun Songkran (អាយន្ដសង្ក្រាន្ត): New Year (Songkran date) calculation using lunar (lunisolar) calendar system.
  • Buddhist Era (ពុទ្ធសករាជ) (BE): Era started when Buddha passed away at the age of 80 on 544 BC. To calculate the BE date from AD, add 544 years to AD date. The BE dates of well-documented historical events may be off by one year, since the CE and BE calendars start their years on different months (January and May, respectively). But for Cambodians, New Year starts in April and new BE year begins on the Laeung Sak day of the New Year. Thai calculates BE year differently. Thai adds 543 instead of 544 to get Thai BE equivalents. [ANT00]
  • Chhankitek (ចន្ទគតិ): This translated to lunar calendar which is a type of calendar that is based on the movement of the Moon. But Khmer calendar is actually lunisolar calendar, which based on the moon movement and also based on the synchronization with solar calendar.
  • Chhantrea Thimeas (ចន្ទ្រាធិមាស): A synonym for Adhikavereak. See Adhikavereak.
  • Jolak Sakaraj (ចុល្លសករាជ): An era that is assigned by King Botum Suriyeakvong (RBHbTumsuriyvgS ) to start on 1183 BE. To find this era from BE, subtract 1183 from BE year. This is also known as small Sakaraj (sakaraj toch).
  • Keit (កើត): A naming of days in the Khmer calendar that counts from the first day of the month to next 15 days. It counts as 1 Keit, 2 Keit, to 15 Keit. These days fall in the waxing state in the lunar phase. It is from the new moon to the full moon.
  • Kneit (ខ្នើត): The state of Keit or being in the phase of the moon waxing. It is from the new moon to the full moon.
  • Leark Kae (លើក​ខែ): Common term for leap-month year or Adhikameas.
  • Leark Tgnai (លើក​ថ្ងៃ): Common term for leap-day year or Adhikavearak.
  • Moha Sakaraj (មហាសករាជ) An era based on 78 AD. It is supposedly started by the Shakas and adopted by the King Kanishka. The National Calendar of India uses this era and it is called Saka Era (78 AD = 0 Saka). So to find Saka, subtract 78 from AD. Khmer source indicates that the King Ketumalea (RBHektumala ) adopted the era 1 Saka = 621 BE. The assignment seems to have inconsistency. To find Moha Sakaraj, subtract 622 from BE. Moha Sakaraj also known as big Sakaraj and Jolak Sakaraj is known as small Sakaraj.
  • Moha Songkran (មហាសង្ក្រាន្ត): The predictions that are made by the Horas about the coming year. The prediction includes astronomical events such as eclipse, the cultural prediction of the New Year angels, and other overall prediction of the year.
  • Roaj (រោច): The naming of day in the Khmer calendar that count from the 16th day of the month to end of the month. It counts as 1 Roaj, 2 Roaj, to 14 or 15 Roaj depending on the month. These days fall in later half of the month after the first 15 days of Keit. This is in the waning state of the lunar phase. It starts from the full moon to the new moon.
  • Ronoch (រនោច): The state of Roaj or the state of the moon waning phase. Waning state starts from the full moon to the new moon.
  • Sak (ស័ក): Sak means year. Sak system uses the Sanskrit words to imply the number 1-10 with the word Sak added to the end. These unique words are used to reckoning the year with the animals years. This forms a 60-year cycle.
  • Sakaraj Thom (សករាជ​ធំ): It translates to “big Sakaraj”. A common term for Moha Sakaraj. See Moha Sakaraj.
  • Sakaraj Toch (សករាជ​តូច): It translates to “small Sakaraj”. A common term for Jolak Sakaraj. See Jolak Sakaraj.
  • Samagn Songkran (សាមញ្ញ​សង្ក្រាន្ត): New Year (Songkran date) calculation using the solar calendar.
  • Songkran (សង្ក្រាន្ត): The time that the Sun enter the Mesa Reasey from Mena Reasey. It is the New Year day. It is on April 13 or 14 in Gregorian calendar.
  • Soriyeakitek (សុរិយ​គតិ): A type of calendar that is based on the movement of the Sun. The international calendar or Gregorian calendar is a solar calendar.
  • Tgnai Kaor (ថ្ងៃកោរ): The day that the monks shave. This falls on 14 Keit and one day before the end of each month (either 13 or 14 Roaj).
  • Tgnai Pegnboramei (ថ្ងៃ​ពេញបូណ៌មី): The full moon day which occurs on 15 Keit of each month. This happens when the Moon is on the opposite side of the Earth and the Sun.
  • Tgnai Sel (ថ្ងៃសីល): Holy day in the Buddhist religion. The day is set to be on 8 Keit, 15 Keit, 8 Roaj, and the last day of Roaj.
  • Tngai Laeung Sak (ថ្ងៃឡើងស័ក): the day to increment Sak which is the last day of the New Year celebration.
  • Tgnai Songkran (ថ្ងៃ​សង្រ្កាន្ត): day of the Songkran. See Songkran.
  • Tngai Vonobot (ថ្ងៃ​វ័នបត): the second day of the New Year celebration.


Calendar Printout

  • [C1]C-HOPE Calendar, Long Beach, CA. Year: 1999, 2000, 2002.
  • [C2]Cambodian Buddhist Society, Inc. Year: 2004, 2005. (Web:
  • [C3]Khmer-Canadian Buddhist Cultural Centre. Year: 2004. (Web:
  • [C4]Khmer Buddhist Association, Long Beach, CA. Year: 1997, 2002, 2004.
  • [C5]The Khemara Buddhikaram, Long Beach, CA. Year: 1996, 1997, 1998, 1999, 2003, 2004.
[CHH67] Chuon Nat. Vachnanukrom Khmer, Pheak Mouy-Pheak Pee [Khmer Dictionary Volume I, II]. Buddhist Institute, Phnom Penh, Cambodia. 1967.
2) , 5) , 8)
[SIN03] Sinhuor Thorn. Cambodian New Year., 2003.
3) , 4)
[KHM97] Khmer Employment Study Assocation. The Understanding of Cambodian New Year., 1997.
6) , 9)
[SIN03] Sinhuor Thorn. Cambodian New Year., 2003.
[KHM97] Khmer Employment Study Assocation. The Understanding of Cambodian New Year., 1997.
en/calender/khmer_chhankitek.txt · Last modified: 2022/09/11 08:22 by Moritz