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    While most people were celebrating the Easter holiday during this first weekend of April, the Cambodian community of Louisville, KY was just ringing in their New Year. They rented out the German American Club for the evening and had a night of music, performances, dancing, and food. There was even a special guest, Louisville’s Mayor, Greg Fischer. He gave a small speech and was genuinely excited to take part in another cultural event in Louisville.

    Most Asian communities follow the lunar calendar and celebrate New Year’s between the end of January and mid-February. Cambodia celebrates their New Year’s at the end of the harvest season, which is around April, so that they may enjoy the fruits of their labor.

    Through the help of donations, the community is able to hold this annual event with free admission and free food. There was a $1 voucher for drinks and $15 prints from a professional photographer at a backdrop, but aside from that, it’s very accessible. All of the food was homemade, and there was a variety of food choices, including Cambodian as well as American. They also had a big pot of a Cambodian dessert made up of coconut milk, tapioca, and banana, and that was disappearing fast.


    There were two traditional Cambodian dances that began after everyone had gotten their food. The first dance, Robam Choun Por which translates into the Blessing Dance, was performed by young Cambodian women in traditional clothing from Cambodia. In the dance, they throw flower petals, and it symbolizes blessings for the new year. The second dance, Robam Bopha Lokey which translates into the World of Flowers Dance, was performed by elementary-age Cambodian girls, also in traditional-styled clothing. This dance expresses the appreciation of the flowers for their beauty and fragrance. Each dance was composed of slow, precise movements and small, intricate hand gestures; both were beautifully performed.

    After the performances were done, after the food was eaten, and after the photos were taken, it was time for the party to get started. At this point, everyone was ready to celebrate through the night, and they took to the dance floor and played games like Hawk Catch the Baby Chickens. It’s a traditional game where one person tries to tag each person in line behind the “mama hen” (the leader).  Though this may not be a well-known event in Louisville, it is worth attending in the future and seeing what the Cambodian community will come up with next.

    Photo Courtesy of Irena Tran and Video Courtesy of Gary Heng 

    Irena Tran's picture

    About Irena Tran

    I studied Art at UofL and now physical therapy at Bellarmine University. I love art, sports, and good food. I'm always looking for something new to try and new concepts to photograph!

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