Khmer Theravada Buddhists, a large sub-division of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha (VBS), came together at a symposium held in southern An Giang province on September 14.

Participants discussed development strategies for the future, with a focus on education and culture.

Over the last decade, the VBS Executive Council helped Khmer Theravada followers preserve and promote their Buddhist culture by restoring pagodas and organising traditional festivals, such as the New Year festival Chol Chnam Thmay, the Sene Dolta Festival to honour ancestors, and the Ooc Oom Bok festival to thank the moon for good harvests.

The opinions that were raised during the symposium will be written up in preparation for the eighth National Buddhist Congress in 2017.

The symposium, the 6th of its kind, drew representatives from the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, the Steering Committee for the Southwestern region, and the VBS executive boards for the Mekong Delta, Ho Chi Minh City, and the Southeastern region, among others.

According to the Government Committee for Religious Affairs, Khmer Theravada Buddhists joined the VBS in 1981. They now have 452 pagodas, more than 1 million followers and almost 9,000 monks.

Buddhism has been practised in Vietnam for over 2,000 years. The country has more than 12 million Buddhists, 40,000 monks and nuns, and almost 15,000 temples, monasteries and other places of worship.-VNA