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US-Cambodians Ready for August Festivals

Cambodians in the US should mark their calendars for Aug. 15, no matter where they are, with events planned on the east and west coasts.

Cambodians are preparing for a forum on cultural, civilization and social issues to be held Aug. 15 in Takoma, Washington, aimed at building solidarity, relationships and a chance to exchange experiences among Cambodians in the US.

Organizers expect many participants from neighboring states, along with Washington state lawmakers, and they plan to have several guest speakers knowledgeable in religion, culture, tradition, education, law, history and deportation issues.

One of those guest speakers, Ros Darachan, said she was planning to discuss parenting skills, which can be quite different between the US and Cambodia.

Cambodian parents usually advise their children to respect their siblings, parents and elders and to speak morally, while they rarely show love to their children, worrying they may misbehave, she said.

“American parents like to encourage and show love to their children, so that children will show love back to their parents,” she said.

The Cambodian cultural forum will also present a photo slideshow of Cambodian traditions, such as the delivery of a child, first-year baby photos, and wedding and funeral ceremonies.

Washington state has the third-largest population of Cambodians, after California and Massachusetts.

“We hope and believe that all our brothers and sisters will learn from each other, understand each other and travel into the future together, with strong solidarity and a good alliance,” Yon Saray, a participant in the forum, said.

Meanwhile, the Cambodian community in Lowell, Mass., plans to have its own festivities Aug. 15, with a boat festival that has been running since 1997. The festival will include exhibitions, classical dance and traditional modeling.

The Lowell boat festival sees participants of many nationalities, with competitors from Laos, Thailand, Vietnam, and the US joining the Cambodian hosts. But while participants and onlookers from many states usually attend, Cambodia has failed in recent years to field any boats. Many people say this is because of a lack of care.