Cambodians around the world are turning to Facebook to celebrate Khmer New Year

Traditional Khmer New Year festivities might have been cancelled, but that does not stop Cambodians around the world from turning to social media, especially Facebook, to celebrate one of the most important holidays online.

An online celebration “Stay Home Khmer New Year” will feature traditional games, songs and performances by some of Cambodia’s top singers, comedians and game show hosts and will be streamed live on Facebook starting at 5 PM Cambodia time on Saturday April 18.

The virtual Khmer New Year is being organised by the US-based organisation International Kare Assembly (IKARE), which also runs the National Khmer Legacy Museum in Minnesota, USA.

“The CoronaVirus and Covid-19 pandemic has forced literally all diaspora communities to pause all public gatherings. As a non-profit organization with a mission to protect, preserve, and promote the best of the Khmer people, the responsibility rests on IKARE to create an example for future generations on turning challenges into opportunities,” said Sek Kosol, event organiser and Managing Director of IKARE, in an interview conducted via Facebook Messenger.

“In this case it is the opportunity to leverage technology to connect the Cambodian communities all over the world including the US, Australia, France, Canada, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, and wherever there are Cambodians,” he added.

The virtual event will kick off with traditional Buddhist chanting led by Venerable Moeng Sang, abbot of Munisotaram pagoda and president of the Minnesota Cambodian Buddhist Society. The event will also feature a demonstration of Bokotor, an ancient Cambodian martial art, led by Bokator master Prach Kenya from his home in San Francisco.

“I want that we, as Cambodians, unite. There are not so many people from Cambodia [in the diaspora] – so we should love one another, and especially our Cambodian culture,” Kenya told told VOA in an interview.

Other guests scheduled to perform at the event include Cambodian celebrities such as Jane Saijai who performs Khmer traditional music, and Cambodian singers Vy Chivoan, San Phanith, Chanlai Vorleak, and Sal Chansy.