Wah Ka Paw Law takes centre stage at Karen New Year celebrations at Nhill. Hundreds of Karen and non-karen people braved sweltering conditions on Saturday to enjoy a day of culture and history.
Members of Karen refugee communities across Victoria descended on Nhill on Saturday to celebrate Karen New Year.
Organiser Tha Blay Sher said she was thrilled to see hundreds of people brave sweltering conditions to enjoy a celebration of culture and history at Nhill Memorial Community Centre.
“The day was hot but we had a lot of fun,” she said.
“We had Karen people come from Mt Gambier, Ringwood, Bendigo and Werribee. It was really nice to have all these people come together at our event and to meet people you haven’t met before.
“We also had a lot of nonkaren people join in, which was wonderful to see so much support from the wider community.
“I want to thank everyone who came for their support.”
Karen people celebrate new year on the first day of the month of Pyathoe, in the Karen calendar.
The date falls in either December or January in the western calendar.
This year the community marked the 2557th year on the Karen calendar, which started in 739BC when the Karen people migrated to Burma.
Activities at Nhill included cultural performances, such as traditional Done and bamboo dances, and a traditional performance depicting the history of the Karen people. Ms Sher said members of the community provided lunch for attendees, with traditional favourites on the menu.
“After many performances and the official ceremony we went to the football ground for sporting competitions,” she said.
“That was also very hot. We played cane ball and the kids and us ladies did a lot of running and jumping and activities. It was a lot of fun.”
Ms Sher said the annual sports component at Davis Park, which featured round robin competitions of volleyball, soccer and the traditional Karen sport of cane ball, was always a highlight.
Hindmarsh Shire Council leaders officially launched its Karen Community Plan 20172021 during festivities at the community centre. “The council arranged meetings with the Karen community and also went to Nhill College to talk to the students,” Ms Sher said. “I think the community seems happy with the plan because the council listened to some of our ideas.”
The plan is an updated version of an original 2014 document and is designed to improve support and opportunities for Karen people in the municipality. • More photos, video, visit www.theweeklyadvertiser. com.au.
“We also had a lot of non-karen people join in, which was wonderful to see so much support from the wider community”
– Tha Blay Sher
SHOWCASE: Above, Nhill’s Karen community celebrates; below, Khin San Aye, Klow Kler and Pa Naing; bottom, Wah Ka Paw Law takes centre stage.