Almanac Heralds Disease, Errant Weather With Some Hope from an Angel

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People paddle along flooded roads in Phnom Penh’s Dangkao district on October 28, 2021. (Andrew Haffner/VOD)
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The coming year will see hot and stormy weather for Cambodia, with the prospect of wars and disease across the world, according to the annual almanac.

The Ministry of Cults and Religions releases the annual Moha Songkran almanac where it uses star charts, planetary movements and ancient formulas to make an array of predictions. It is drafted by Im Borin, who works at the committee for organizing festivals and celebrations.

Apart from predictions, the almanac also contains details of the thevada that will descend at the Khmer New Year holidays and specific details on how festivals should be observed during the year.

This year’s predictions are a little bleak. Borin predicts there will be hot weather, storms and strong winds, while wars and diseases will emerge over the course of the year. While he expects crops like rice paddy, soy and sesame to do well in his prediction for the new year, one of his “minor predictions” suggests there is a potential downside too.

“Only some part of the paddy in the field and crops will get broken, which will lead the people to be happy and sad equally, but there will be enough food,” the text reads.

The new year prognostications don’t get any better. Borin predicts an eye disease will spread this year, and that other diseases will cause many deaths. The one silver lining is the Khmer New Year thevada Kemara Devi will descend on April 14 at 4 p.m., bringing harmony to people and, in a somewhat contradictory prediction, prevent disease.

The angel will be seated on a buffalo, with a harp in one hand and sword in the other. She appreciates offerings of jek namva, a specific type of banana, the almanac adds. 

Borin said he was busy on Wednesday and did not answer subsequent phone calls from a reporter.

Rady, a fortune teller at Boeng Keng Kang market, diverged from the predictions a little. She said there would be no war in Cambodia and no vicious disease in the country, but said it was likely there could be small issues around the national election in July.

Rady said one way to bypass any of the unfavorable predictions would be to pray to spirits that helped fortune tellers like her make their predictions.

“The spirits will help us, but we need to obey and be honest.”

Mean Channy was selling beverages in the market. When asked about the predictions of crop damage, Channy said this was believable but that these events happen because of natural events and not by reading ancient formulas.

“It happens depending on nature. Sometimes this province suffers and another province is fine,” Channa said.

Despite espousing a scientific approach earlier, Channy then quickly flipped and said her son had similar prescient powers and was aware there would be flooding and disease this year.

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