Mass exodus starts to mark Year of the Dragon

New Year countdown Performers riding bikes during a parade on the eve of the Thai New Year, locally known as Songkran, in Bangkok. Thais are celebrating the three-day festival starting today, and it is a custom to splash water on others, symbolically to wash away the previous year and welcome the new one. — AFP

THE country is preparing to celebrate its traditional Lunar New Year, the Year of the Dragon, which will start today.

Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers have begun to leave the capital Phnom Penh for their hometowns in various provinces in order to enjoy the holiday with their family members.

Chum Sina, a 35-year-old deliveryman for a private company in Phnom Penh, said the traditional New Year is the most important occasion for a family gathering.

“This is a special occasion for a family reunion,” he said yesterday while taking a bus with his wife and a son to his hometown in Pursat province, about 200km northwest of Phnom Penh.

“I usually visit my hometown twice a year on the occasions of the Pchum Ben festival, or Ancestor’s Day, and the Cambodian New Year.”

Sina said during the New Year, besides gathering with parents and relatives, people will go for a walk, play traditional games, or visit various tourist destinations.

A native to southeastern Prey Veng province, Lib Kunsry, a garment factory worker in Phnom Penh, said she is eager to see her family members as they have not met for months.

“I’m looking forward to the New Year holiday because I miss my hometown and want to meet my family members,” said the 38-year-old mother of a girl.

Kunsry goes to her hometown three times a year on the occasions of traditional New Year, Pchum Ben festival and Water Festival.

“On the occasion of the traditional New Year, I always give some money and food to my parents and parents-in-law as well as to elderly relatives,” she said.

“Also, I prepare some food and money for monks at a pagoda to dedicate to the dead relatives.” — Xinhua

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