Photo by Ariana Gastelum from inside of the Cambodian Buddhist Temple.
Cambodia Town, Inc. and 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews welcomes the year of the rooster with the ninth annual Cambodia Town Culture Festival on Sunday, April 2 from 8:30AM to 4:00PM at the Mark Twain Library.
“Rooster is smart, alert, [stylish] and always punctual,” Monoram Neth, Cambodian Coordinating Council board member, told the Post.
Cambodian New Year is a three-day holiday that officially begins on April 14.
This year’s festival will start with offering alms (gifts) to monks and ceremoniously bathing the Buddha.
“Buddhism is always forgiving and compassionate for everyone,” Weetchai Vongesa, a monk at the Cambodian Buddhist Temple, told the Post. “Everything is in your heart and your mind. It’s in nature.”
At 10:00AM, a procession of King Jayavarman VII will start at 14th Street and Gundry Avenue and finish at the Mark Twain Library, where there will be a ribbon-cutting and remarks by Chairman of Cambodia Town Inc. Pasin Chanou, 6th District Councilman Dee Andrews, Chairman of Midtown Improvement District Ken McDonald and Arts Council Executive Director Griselda Suarez.
Cambodian classical dance and costuming, drawing, shadow puppets, music, musical instruments, textiles, dressmaking, weddings, gardening and cooking will be among the featured arts and cultural exhibits.
For the first time, the festival will crown a couple as Cambodia Town Culture Festival Romvong Champions. Romvong is a Cambodian folk dance where everyone dances in a circle. The participants will be judged on costume, style, chemistry and entertainment. Officials said the winners can either be two women, two men or a woman and a man.
Local Cambodian artisans and culture bearers will share their expertise through interactive demonstrations. The first will be a Khmer martial arts performance by Savan Reksa followed by a Filipino martial arts performance by Grand Master Roger Solar and Master Ramses Sison.
A costume show will also take place for participants to dress like Jayavarman VII, King of the Khmer Empire in Cambodia from 1181 to 1218.
The Cambodia Town Culture Festival encourages people to be part of the event by attending in Khmer costume, Neth said. Those who do not have costumes can buy or rent them at local shops on Anaheim Street in Cambodia Town.
Performers, volunteers and Cambodian-costumed participants will have the chance to win up to $300 in cash prizes in a raffle.
A cash prize of $100 will also be rewarded by Chanou to whoever will give him the most creative answer to the question, “Why did the rooster cross the road?” Participants must submit through email by March 31. Those who miss the deadline can submit their answers at the registration booth on the day of the event.
Additionally, Chanou’s wife Rosana and their 3-year-old daughter will lead a “rooster dance,” not to be confused with the chicken dance.
“There is definitely something for all ages to enjoy,” Andrews told the Post. “I have always enjoyed this event. It truly shows the great Cambodian culture we have here in the city of Long Beach.”
More information regarding the event and the guidelines to the $100 contest can be found through the Cambodia Town website here.
The Mark Twain Library is located at 1401 East Anaheim Street.