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Karen New Year Festival

The Karen community in Bendigo joins together to celebrates the Karen New Year Festival with food, dances, songs and speeches.

Karen New Year is celebrated on the first day of the month of Pyathoe, in the Karen calendar. This is in December or January in the western calendar.

The rice harvest is completed in the period leading to Pyathoe, and according to Karen traditional religious practice, there must be a celebration for consumption of the new crop. It is also the time to divine the date for commencement of the next crop. Typically, this is also when new houses are constructed, and the completion of these must be celebrated.

The first day of Pyathoe is not a distinct festival for any religious group, so it is a day that is acceptable to Karen people of all religions.

Karen New Year is celebrated throughout Burma, in refugee camps and Karen villages in Thailand, and Karen refugee communities around the world.

Karen New Year celebrations typically include Don dances and bamboo dances, singing, speeches, and the consumption of lots of food and alcohol.

The Karen New Year Festival in Bendigo is organised by the Karen Organisation Bendigo (formerly Karen Democracy & Development Organisation Bendigo).

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