CEL­E­BRA­TION:

The Weekly Advertiser Horsham - - Front Page - BY SARAH SCULLY

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

Pic­tures: PAUL CAR­RACHER

SHOW­CASE: Above, Nhill’s Karen com­mu­nity cel­e­brates; be­low, Khin San Aye, Klow Kler and Pa Naing; bot­tom, Wah Ka Paw Law takes cen­tre stage.

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