Services and Annual Celebrations

Watt Munisotaram Events

Mid-February: Meakha Puja

This holiday is observed to commemorate four auspicious events:
1) 1,250 Buddhist monks came to see the Buddha that day by coincidence
2) It was the full moon day
3) All the Buddhist monks were arahants and were ordained by the Buddha himself
4) On that day the  Buddha taught “Ovadapatimokha” - the goal, principles and procedures of Buddhism

Mid-April: Cambodian New Years

The New Year is celebrated in during the first full moon in April because in Cambodia it coincides with the end of the rice-harvesting season, allowing farmers to enjoy the holiday without worrying about the harvest. A big part of the celebration is the arrival of the angel, who comes to take care of the world for a year. People also visit the temples and monasteries, bath Buddha statues, offer prayers and worship the Buddha, and perform various traditions and rituals to welcome the New Year. This three-day celebration is also marked by popular games, dances, and performance of music.

Hassica Phan, a volunteer at Watt Munisotaram, helps prepare Cambodian girls for the role of the angel every year. “We make sure we do it right and we put a lot of time and pay a lot of attention for them so that they look good and be the best because it is…the center of attention for the New Year.” It “is not an easy job,” Phan acknowledges, both because of the heavy jewelry and crown the angel must wear and the specific manners they must follow. “There’s certain ways you have to do,” she says, “How to sit, how to walk…” The role is often hard to fill, but lately there has been increased interest by high school and college-aged girls to be involved in the ceremonies, to Phan’s great pleasure. “I think they’ve finally got how important it is,” says Phan’s sister, Sophia Sour.

Late May: Visakha Puja

Visakha Puja is a major Buddhist festival that celebrates the birth, enlightenment (nirvana) and death (Parinirvana) of the Buddha during the day of the full moon in May.

Late September or Early October: Kan Binda and Pchum Binda (Ancestor's Day)

Pchum Binda is a festival in which Cambodians pay respects to deceased relatives. This Buddhist festival exists only in the Cambodian Buddhist tradition. For 15 days, people visit temples to offer alms and request religious services to dedicate merits to the dead.

October: Kathina Ceremony

This ceremony is held annualy in October to offer new robes and other necessities to the monks.

November: Reading of King Vessanthara's Story

The Watt Munisotaram community recites all 13 chapters of the story and eat special rice with coconut and banana. There is also an illuminated boat procession on the reflection pond.