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By: Savannah Aubinoe Festivals in Southeast Asia

Introduction : 

Introduction The majority of festivals in southeast Asia center around religion and are seasonal festivals, which are determined by the solar and lunar calendars. Festivals serve to meet specific needs for different cultures, but also provide entertainment for people. They offer a sense of belonging for religious, social, and geographical groups. Modern festivals that focus on cultural or ethnic topics seek to inform others of their traditions. Festivals in Cambodia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, and all of southeast Asia for that matter are representations of the respect people have for their traditions and ancestors of the past

Cambodia : 

Cambodia The dates of most Cambodian festivals are determined according to the Khmer lunar calendar Several important national and regional festivals in the Khmer calendar include: Victory Day- National holiday that commemorates the fall of Pol Pots regime. Also, it marks the start of the Vietnamese regime for many, which is seen as another period of foreign rule. Takes place on January 7th. Khmer New Year- Marking the end of the harvest season. Cambodians clean and decorate their homes, make offerings at the local temple and throw water at each other as a form of blessing. Lasts for three days during April. Water Festival- Considered most extravagant festival on the calendar. Millions of people travel to the rivers of Phnom Penh to watch paddlers in brightly covered boats competing for “top honors”. It takes place in either October or November and lasts for three days. Bonn Visak Bochea- Nationwide festival that commemorates the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment, and death. Held during the sixth full moon of the lunar calendar during the middle of May. Angkor Wat

Cambodia- Victory Day : 

Cambodia- Victory Day The end of the Khmer Rouge marked the start of a new era, but it was a strange type of victory. Eldery man reflecting on the harsh reign, that left 2 million people dead. January 7th  Cambodian’s People’s Party leader greets supporters at a ceremony on January 7, 2010. Interesting Facts: Not universally celebrated in Cambodia due to mixed feelings. No heros’s welcome for conquering troops. Anniversary provides an opportunity to keep the memories of Pol Pot era alive  Cambodian Children on Victory Day in Phnom Penh.

Cambodia- Lunar New Year : 

Cambodia- Lunar New Year  16-strong troop from the Cambodian Light Children’s Association. Traditional Khmer Aspara dancers Area of Long Beach, California where girls march during the Third Annual Cambodian New Year Parade Interesting Facts: An aim of the Khmer New Year is to refresh undesirable livelihood of the past and to enter into a better livelihood of the future It is a Cambodian law of religion that everyone must go to pagodas during the New Year

Cambodia- Water Festival & Bonn Visak Bochea : 

Cambodia- Water Festival & Bonn Visak Bochea About 2,400 oarsmen will compete in a three day race during the water festival 2006 Water Festival- 1.5 million people. Festivities included, illuminated floating, moon salutations, and eating a special rice Devotees bring candles to lay at the feet of their teacher. The burning symbolizes life is subject to decay and destruction. Visak Bochea Parade 2008

Vietnam : 

Vietnam Vietnamese festivals are much more than just fun. They are a binding and unifying force among people. Festivals include: Tet Nguyen Dan (Vietnamese New Year)- Most popular festival of the year among the Vietnamese people. Period between crop harvesting and the planting of new crops. This is one of the most desired breaks in the agricultural year for the Vietnamese! Takes place on the first day of the first lunar month. Tet Trung Thru (Mid Autumn Festival)- Considered a family holiday. Activities revolve around children and education. Lanterns are bought to symbolize brightness and children perform traditional dances. It continues in many Vietnamese-American communities in the United States, as well. Takes place on the 15th day of the 8th lunar month.

Vietnam- Tet Nguyen Dan : 

Vietnam- Tet Nguyen Dan Street theater during Vietnam’s biggest party of the year. Seattle Center annually celebrates the Vietnamese Lunar New Year. Little Girl at the Tet Festival. Tet Parade fireworks in downtown Ho Chi Minh City Interesting Facts: Vietnamese usually return to their families during Tet Is divided into three periods Tat Nien (Before New Year’s Eve), Giao Thura (New Year’s Eve) and Tan Nien (The New Year)

Vietnam- Tet Trung Thu : 

Vietnam- Tet Trung Thu  Children parading in the streets wearing masks, banging drums, and carrying lanterns.  Specially trained groups of boys perform lion dances.  People lighting incense at the temples dedicated to the goddesses. Interesting Facts: According to folklore parents try to make up for lost time with their children during the harvest time. Can only be done under the full moon because it represents the fullness and prosperity of life.

Sri Lanka : 

Sri Lanka Festivals in Sri Lanka are mainly religious and each of the four main religious groups in the country- Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and Muslisms celebrate individual festivals annually Buddhist Festivals: Vesak (full moon day)- commemorates the birth, enlightenment, and death of Siddartha Gautama, the Buddha.Buddhist houses on the island are decorated with bright Vesak lanterns. Takes place in May. Esala- July to August is a month of religious celebrations, but the biggest and most famous is the Festival of the August Moon at Kataragama in the eastern part of the country. Hindu Festivals: Vel- honors the War God Skhanda in Colombo. Streets in the main city are used for the extravagant processions of the decorated chariots, accompanied by dance and music. Held in July to August. Deepaval (festival of lights)- Thousands of oil lamps will be lit to celebrate the victory of good over evil and the return of the Rama (incarceration of Vishnu). The goddess of wealth, Lakshmi is worshipped during the third day of the festival.

Sri Lanka- Festivals Continued : 

Sri Lanka- Festivals Continued Christian Festivals: Christmas- The Christian population in Sri Lanka is much less compared to Buddhists or Hindus on the island, but those who do celebrate it begin in early December. To Sri Lankans, the true spirit of Christmas is sharing. Santa Claus, fruitcake, wine, carols, trees covered in bows and lights mark the season of Christmas. Muslim Festivals: Milad-un-Nabi- the prophet Mohammed’s birthday and the feast day that ends the fast of Ramadan (publicly celebrated). Muslim families share a meal with their non-Muslim friends. Galle Falls Green, in the heart of Colombo, is the site of a mass gathering of Muslim men praying on these festival days

Sri Lanka- Buddhist Festivals : 

Sri Lanka- Buddhist Festivals  Richly-decorated elephants and dances make up the Esala festival (here shown on a main street). Illuminated display throughout the streets of Sri Lanka during Vesak   Anti-war march during last years Vesak People visiting a temple during Escala 

Sri Lanka- Hindu Festivals : 

Sri Lanka- Hindu Festivals  One of the beautifully decorated chariot’s of Colombo’s Vel Festival Adipuram Vel Festival, Mayura Temple, Colombo Man praying to a Deepavali manifestation  Sri Lankan people dancing during the festival of light 

Sri Lanka- Christian and Muslim Festivals : 

Sri Lanka- Christian and Muslim Festivals  Sri Lankan priest and child praying inside a church on Christmas Christian priest holds a small idol of Our Lady of Good Voyage, atop a fishing boat  Muslim boy lights  candles in Sri Lanka Muslim praying sessions during Ramadan 

Sri Lanka- Interesting Facts : 

Sri Lanka- Interesting Facts During Vesak huge pandals (bamboo frameworks) hung with pictures displaying the life of the Buddha are placed throughout Colombo Deepavali is considered the beginning of the financial year for the Hindu business community The word `Deepavali' literally means rows of clay lamps. During the Esala Festival, weeks from July 3rd to July 19th, about three million Bodha pilgrims visit the temple.

Importance of Festivals : 

Importance of Festivals Although the countries of Cambodia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka all celebrate different annual festivals, the countries share the same beliefs, religions, and traditions. Asian values such as social harmony, loyalty and respect towards elders, and non-violence are reflected in such celebrations. People may stereotype Asian festivities with red dragons, the Buddha, or paper lanterns without really understanding why. The fact is, out of all cultures Asian culture is the one that cherishes the past, without relying on events for solely entertainment purposes. However, that is not saying that Asian festivals aren’t colorful and filled with plenty of excitement. Several advantages spring from various celebrations. These include increasing relations among people, exchanging ideas and thoughts, and preserving the heritage of citizens in each country. The importance of a festival lies in celebrating it in a meaningful and purposeful way, and ultimately spreading joy to one and all.

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