The southern province of Soc Trang is filled with a festive atmosphere as local Khmer people celebrate their traditional New Year Chol Chnam Thmay from April 14-16.

With more than 400,000 Khmer people, or 30.71 percent of the province’s population, Soc Trang has the largest Khmer community in the nation, all of whom are busy decorating their houses and preparing traditional dishes to worship their ancestors and feed their guests.

During the festival, Khmer people often gather at pagodas, practice traditional customs such as gathering up sand to form a small mountain, and pray for a New Year of peace, favourable weather and prosperity.

One of the most important practices in Chol Chnam Thmay is the Buddha bathing ceremony. Khmer people also bathe to pray for forgiveness for mistakes made in the previous year.

Various traditional activities such as games, dances and singing are also held during the festival.

In a bid to facilitate a warm local Khmer community festival, the province has sent 25 delegations to visit and present New Year gifts.

This year, thanks to joint efforts of the Government and locals, Khmer people are welcoming their New Year festival in improved economic conditions, said Nguyen Trung Hieu, Chairman of the provincial People’s Committee.

Lam Hong from Vien Binh commune in Tran De district, where 60 percent of the community is Khmer, said applying large-scale rice fields helped his family earn 30 million VND (1,390 USD) in profit per hectare. Hong, who owns 15 hectares of rice fields, said mechanised farming has helped his family cut costs considerably in harvest and transport.

Soc Trang has also invested in education, building eight new primary schools and one high school to Khmer students. Khmer people are also engaging in strengthened local administration. Currently, 13.3 percent of the total 4,554 Party members in Soc Trang are Khmer people, while nearly 5,000 Khmer people are serving as public servants.-VNA