Blessings bestowed for New Year

Preah Chanh Penh Vong group performed a Robam Choun Por dance. The purpose of the dance is to wish the audience good health and success. 327980_01 Picture: ROB CAREW

Wat Buddharangsi temple in Springvale South greeted the Cambodian New Year with three days of feasts of food, prayer, blessings and dance.

After months of preparations, the Buddhist temple hosted up to 4000 visitors for the traditional festival on 14-16 April, blessing all with health and prosperity.

On Day 1 was Moha Songkran – the Day of Blessings. At the temple, meals were prepared for monks, who offered blessings for families.

On the same day, Cambodians clean and decorate their homes with food and drinks to welcome angels to bless them for the New Year.

Virak Vanabet – the Donating Day – was marked on Saturday 15 April. It featured traditional dancing performed by the Preah Chanh Penh Vong group.

Its dance, Robam Choun Por, blesses the audience with good health and success.

Food was also offered to monks and distributed to the congregation. This symbolised prosperity and longevity.

Guest speakers offered well-wishes, including MPs Julian Hill and Meng Heang Tak, Greater Dandenong mayor Eden Foster and councillors Richard Lim and Sophie Tan.

Cr Foster said the Year of the Rabbit symbolised the happiest sign of the Zodiac.

“Like the rabbit, the City of Greater Dandenong is a peaceable, understanding, and accepting place where people from all over the world come to establish a better future for themselves and their family.”

Mr Tak said events such as this fostered Victoria’s multiculturalism.

“A special event that welcomes all community members to participate, to gain an understanding of Cambodian culture and the principles of Buddhism… all while showcasing the rich traditions of our vibrant community.”

Also speaking were Killester College’s principal Sally Buick and assistant principal Peter O’Neill, Vivienne Nguyen from the Victorian Multicultural Commission as well as Cambodian Association of Victoria president Youhorn Chea and committee members Meng Bunlay and Emily Thong.

On Day 3 was Vearak Leung Sak – Welcoming the New Year.

‘Pithi Srang Preah’, a ritual of washing and cleaning Buddha statues with scented water, was performed. Visitors also washed the hands and feet of the elders to apologise for their past mistakes.

Monash Children’s Hospital representatives were invited to speak, along with philanthropist Cr Lim.

Cr Lim told the gathering that the hospital provided world-class care for all. But it was also important to show charity by raising funds for those requiring medical treatment and those less privileged.

“The Cambodian New Year shows the traditional end of the harvest season.

“It is an important event for Cambodians and allows us to come together to show our gratitude towards each other and to recognise those less fortunate.”

At the end of each night, traditional Khmer food stalls were open and local Cambodian singers performed and danced with the crowd.