Karen New Year 2018 Wimmera celebrations: organisers set for big crowd

PEOPLE from the Wimmera, Victoria and interstate will gather in Nhill at the weekend for the annual Karen New Year celebrations.

This year marks the eighth time the town has hosted the event.

ThaBlay Sher KhinShwe moved to Nhill in 2012 and has been involved with the event since.

She said celebrations on Saturday provided a chance for people from all parts of the community to come together.

“It is a day of celebrating the new year, and also a way to say thank you to Wimmera people for their support and acceptance into the community,” she said.

“On the agenda is a lot of performances – including singing and dancing – and a few speeches.

“After the main ceremony we will have a social lunch where we all share a traditional Karen meal together.

“This will include lots of curries, salads and sweets.”

Cultural performances such as the Done Dance and Bamboo Dance will feature during the ceremony.

The celebration at the Nhill Memorial Community Centre will be followed by a community sports competition, which has become a staple of the celebrations each year.

This will run at Nhill's Davis Park in the afternoon.

Games will include soccer, volleyball and cane ball.

The latter is a kick volleyball-style sport that originated in South-East Asia and uses a ball made of rattan cane.

Ms Sher said organisers usually estimated about 500 people would attend the new year celebrations each year, but the event often drew larger crowds.

“This year we're going to have people from Werribee, Ringwood, Mount Gambier and Bendigo, and people from interstate as well, including visitors from Sydney and Canberra,” she said.

“It is a family event and we invite everyone to please come along and enjoy a day of celebration and happiness.

“It is going to be hot on Saturday but we hope people will still come.”

The Karen New Year is celebrated on the first day of the month of Pyathoe in the Karen calendar.

The calendar started in 739BC, the year Karen people migrated to Burma.

The celebrations will also include the launch of Hindmarsh Shire Council’s Karen Community Plan.

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