Cambodian New Year Celebration, Khmer Rouge Dark Past In Shadow

Khmer New Year Parade the Angkorian Style in Long Beach, CA on April 3, 2022

Cambodians celebrate the New Year on April 13 – 15, the three days of celebration is a tradition more than 5,000 years old. Cambodians share this holiday at the same time as the Thais, Laotians, Burmese, and Philippinos. History recorded that even though the Cambodian New Year uses the lunar calendar, the same time as the Chinese New Year, except that Cambodia’s King granted April as the month to celebrate because it was after harvest season so people can enjoy the holidays.

There are many festivities for the Cambodian New Year. The celebration includes parades, folklore music and dance, traditional games, monk offerings, and feast. It’s the biggest holiday of the year for the Cambodian people. Cambodian Americans gathered and celebrated faithfully in many cities in the United States. From Lowell, Massachusetts to Long Beach, California, the Cambodian New Year parades took place on the streets, people are dressed in traditional Cambodian costumes, waving proudly Cambodian national and religious flags.

Dr. Christina Lee and Princess Kessar Norodom celebrate Khmer New Year parade in Long Beach, 2022.

Long Beach organized its 14th Annual Cambodia Town Parade and Culture Festival on April 3, then on April 17, there was a citywide effort that organized the 47th Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day which was recognized by the California State Legislator under House Resolution 100, April 11 – 17th is Cambodian Genocide Memorial Week. “This resolution serves as remembrance of those who lost their lives, and all of the survivors and descendants…we must not forget the crimes committed, and continue to recognize and support our Cambodian community” stated in a letter to the Cambodian community by Patrick O’Donnell, Assembly member of 70th District, representing Long Beach.

Khmer Killing Field Memorial Service in Long Beach, April 17, 2022

In Long Beach, the Killing Field Memorial Center and the Cambodian Veteran’s Annual Commemoration held a morning prayer and a candle light vigil in the evening to honor the lives lost, survivors, and descendants. April 17, 1975 was the day the Khmer Rouge captured Phnom Penh, the capital city of Cambodia. Over 2 million people were forced to evacuate and lied to that they could return in a few days. But no one returned for 4 years, broadcast news showed Phnom Penh was still empty in 1979 when the Vietnamese toppled the Khmer Rouge – a regime that killed 2 million people from starvation, diseases, and executions. Another million people died under the Vietnamese occupation during the next 10 years due to famine and their refusal of foreign aids after they took control. As result, hundreds of thousands of Cambodians are displaced all over the world, making Long Beach and Lowell the two top places that Cambodian refugees settled between 1975-1990.

Facebook’s screen grab during a live-streaming at Long Beach city council meeting recognizing Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Councilwoman Suely Saro of Long Beach and its city council recognized the Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day on Tuesday 19th during the council meeting.

On April 24, 2022 — Khmer Post USA reached out to Lowell City Councilor-at-large Vesna Nuon and asked whether there will be a Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day in Lowell, he agreed there should be. He said in 2018, Councilor Nuon motioned to have April as a Cambodian Heritage Month which also included April 17, the day the Khmer Rouge took control of Phnom Penh and the killings that followed, but “we should have a Genocide Remembrance Day and I don’t see anyone would be against that,” he said.

Councilor Nuon said he will file a motion on Tuesday requesting the city council to recognize April 17 as Cambodian Genocide Remembrance Day.

Cambodian American elected officials posed on stage with some Khmer New Year Committee at Clemente Park, Lowell, Massachusetts. L to R: Councilor at-large Vesna Nuon, Mayor Sokhary Chau, School Committee member Susie Chhuon, State Representative Vanna Howard of 17th Middlesex District, and State Representative Rady Mom of 18th Middlesex District.
Khmer Music Teacher Thara Ros performs Khmer Chay Yam with LPCS students at Lowell City Hall for Khmer New Year celebration.
Khmer New Year parade in Lowell, Massachusetts.










Lowell has enjoyed the return of the festivities after two years of pause due to Covid-19. The Clemente Park Committee resumed the 12th Annual Cambodian New Year celebration, the celebrations also took place at the Lowell Senior Center and at Lowell City Hall a flag raising ceremony was organized by the Cambodian Mutual Assistance Association and Lowell Public Charter School. Lowell Mayor Sokhary Chau also hosted a Cambodian Dance Performance at Middlesex Community College, featuring a visiting Cambodia group called Funan Dance School.