Members of the Cambodian American Heritage Association held an art performance on Saturday in Arlington, Virginia, in celebration of the Khmer New Year.
Nearly 300 people attended the gathering, including Cambodia’s ambassador to the U.S., Hem Heng. “I come to this event every year,” he told VOA Khmer.
Participants say the annual gathering is an important connection to Cambodia and the past.
“When I first saw a performance of the Khmer arts in the US, I cried, because I didn’t expect to see Khmer dance again after the Khmer Rouge,” Chea Mary, who has lived in the U.S. since 1985, said Saturday. “Whenever I watch it, all my suffering is gone.”
Tes Samroeum, president of Cambodian American Heritage, which was created in 1980, said such reactions are common and are part of the mission of healing of the festival.
The festival has become a place where people reconnect to the past, and even find old friends or family members.
“It is good for the soul,” said Jeff Boulier, who came from Herndon, Virginia, to watch the festival. “Art is a wonderful thing.”