Friday, August 5 2022

The annual Karen New Year’s celebration in San Diego is an opportunity for the Karen community to come together to pray for happiness and compassion over the coming year.

This year, like so many celebrations, the event will take place virtually in a pre-recorded stream available Wednesday at 6 p.m. on the Facebook and YouTube accounts of the Karen Organization of San Diego.

Nao Kabashima, executive director of the organization, said she hopes the easy access to the event will help San Diegan residents who are not familiar with Karen culture learn about the rich history and traditions of some. of their neighbors.

“This is a great opportunity for them to participate in this event from the safety of their homes, and they can still feel the passion,” said Kabashima. “I’m so proud that this is actually happening. “

Now is the time for Karen San Diegans to celebrate life in a place where they can practice this part of their cultural traditions safely and publicly, Kabashima said, and embrace the fullness of their identity. In Burma, now officially known as Myanmar, they were among the ethnic minorities persecuted by the government, and their New Year’s celebration was an easy target for attacks.

There are about 2,000 Karen refugees in San Diego, according to Kabashima, who is herself an immigrant from Japan. The Karen refugees began resettling in San Diego in 2007, she said, and the Karen Organization of San Diego began hosting the New Year’s celebration in 2009.

The Karen New Year is observed on the first day of “Pya Tho”, the tenth month of the Burmese calendar.

In August, the leaders of the Karen community and the youth decided to work to organize the event virtually because of the coronavirus. They have been planning and tweaking the celebration ever since.

Normally, the event takes place at a local school for three or four hours on a weekend rather than on the official day, Kabashima said. A silver lining to the pandemic celebration is that the community can celebrate on the actual New Year’s date.

This year’s celebration will last around 40 minutes and feature performance within individual households to stay in compliance with COVID-19 health measures.

Since a common meal is normally the focal point of the event, the Karen Organization of San Diego partners with another group to provide food baskets for all the celebrating families.

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