President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan (Photo: VNA)
Can Tho (VNA) – Khmer ethnic people in the southern region gathered in Can Tho city on April 5 to celebrate the traditional Chol Chnam Thmay New Year festival.

The event drew numerous Buddhism dignitaries, monks, nuns and followers from 17 cities and provinces in the region.

President of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee Nguyen Thien Nhan said the socio-economic development in the region faced a number of difficulties in 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 due to severe drought and saltwater intrusion.

However, local authorities have implemented effectively the Party and State’s policies on ethnic and religious affairs to reduce poverty, ensure social welfares and develop culture, education-training and health care for Khmer people, he said.

He called upon Khmer ethnic compatriots to promote solidarity and coordinate with authorities to overcome setbacks, stabilise their lives, and actively join campaigns in agriculture, manufacturing and rural development.

At the same time, it is necessary to preserve and uphold cultural identities and increase awareness of preventing the “peaceful evolution” plot of hostile forces to ensure political stability, social order and safety, he said.

The VFF leader asked the Steering Committee for the Southwestern Region to implement more effectively the Party and State’s policies and guidelines on ethnic and religious affairs, while taking better care of locals’ lives, especially poor households.

Permanent deputy head of the committee Nguyen Phong Quang said the committee has coordinated with relevant ministries, sectors and localities in drawing ethnic and religious policies for the 2016-2020 period.

Chol Chnam Thmay is one of the most important festivals of the year for the Khmer people. It usually lasts three days and is celebrated mostly in pagodas.

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.-VNA