The traditional Chol Chnam Thmay (New Year festival) of the Khmer people is being celebrated at the Culture Tourism Village of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups in Son Tay town, Hanoi, opening a series of activities welcoming the Vietnam Ethnic Group Cultural Day (April 19).

The festival is taking place at the Khmer pagoda complex in the village from April 15-20. A Buddha procession and bathing ceremony will be staged alongside rituals to see off a god called Tevada and welcome the new one.

It is also observed in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, with the aim of praying for a new year of peace and happiness.

During the festival, which usually falls in mid-April and lasts three days (four days in leap years), the Khmer ethnic people partake in various games and fairy tale storytelling and wish people health and prosperity.

Apart from worshipping the Buddha, Khmer people believe that every year heaven sends a god (Tevada) to earth to look after human beings and their lives. At the end of the year, the god returns to heaven and another will replace him.

On the eve of the year, every family prepares a lavish meal, burns incense and candles.

Celebrating the Chol Chnam Thmay festival and highlighting the ethnic cuisine culture are one of the main activities of the Culture Tourism Village of Vietnamese Ethnic Groups, about 40km west of Hanoi’s centre.-VNA