Soc Trang: Khmer people celebrate Sen Dolta festival

WVR - These days, when coming to villages in Soc Trang, visitors can easily feel the bustling atmosphere of the Khmer people preparing for the Sen Dolta festival (also known as the worshiping of ancestors). The festival hosted many activities to remember the ancestors and those rendered meritorious services to the villages.
Lãnh đạo các địa phương tỉnh Sóc Trăng chúc lễ Senđônta tại chùa Phnor Kom Pôt, xã Tham Đôn (huyện Mỹ Xuyên – Sóc Trăng) và động viên người dân Khmer đón lễ thật đầm ấm, vui tươi và giàu bản sắc văn hóa. (Ảnh: Phương Nghi)

Local leaders of Soc Trang province wishing a happy Sen Dolta festival at Phnor Kom Pot pagoda, Tham Don commune (My Xuyen district, Soc Trang) and encouraging Khmer people to celebrate the festival warmly, joyfully and richly in cultural identity. (Photo: Phuong Nghi)

Preserving the cultural beauty of Sen Dolta festival

These days, many Khmer pagodas have become livelier and more colorful; The monks have decorated the pagoda with flags and flowers, repainted the walls and cleaned up the surroundings to create a new look for the pagodas.

Everybody is aiming for a holiday season filled with cultural identity, honoring the moral value of "remembering one’s roots". A typical feature of this festival is that everyone performs a blessing ceremony for the ancestors and wishes for peace and prosperity to the ethnic people, and for their villages to become more developed and beautiful.

Most Venerable Tang No, Abbot of Khl'eang Pagoda (Soc Trang city), Head of the Executive Board of the Vietnam Buddhist Sangha in the province, Standing Vice President of the Provincial Solidarity Association of monks and patriots, said: “This year, from August 29 to September 1 of the lunar calendar, the year of the Tiger (September 24 - September 26, 2022) together with the Khmer people in the South, the Khmer people in Soc Trang are excited to celebrate the Sen Dolta festival. This is an opportunity to show gratitude to our birth givers, deceased relatives, people with meritorious services to the revolution, and for family members to spend time together.

This year, the ceremony is held as people's lives are getting better and better. Through this festival, the Khmer people want to preserve and promote good cultural values, especially teaching their children and grandchildren to remember their roots."

On these days, when returning to villages during the Sen Dolta season, the melodies of the pentatonic orchestra and the sound of prayers for peace are heard everywhere. Thach Cong, from Can Gio hamlet, Tham Don commune (My Xuyen district) shared: “Every year during Sen Dolta, I always remind my children and grandchildren who work far away to try to return home to fulfill their duties.

From cleaning the altar, preparing the trays of rice and fruit cakes for worshiping... we want family members to always remember the merits of their ancestors and those who have meritorious services to our villages. Thereby, further cherish their origins and preserve the cultural beauty of this festival."

Đón mừng lễ Senđônta đồng bào phật tử tề tựu đông đủ tại chùa, thực hiện các nghi thức để tưởng nhớ công ơn tổ tiên, những người có công với phum sóc. (Ảnh: Phương Nghi)
Buddhists gathering at the pagoda to perform rituals to remember their ancestors and those with meritorious services to the villages. (Photo: Phuong Nghi)

Positive changes in the life of Khmer people

Soc Trang province has focused on effectively implementing resources from ethnic minority policy programs and projects, which have brought practical results, contributing to further meeting the needs of the life and production of ethnic minorities, especially those in remote areas; helping ethnic minorities develop their home economy, increase income, and reduce poverty sustainably.

Huynh Thi Diem Ngoc, Vice Chairwoman of Soc Trang Provincial People's Committee, said that up to now, the whole province has 99.1% of communes with roads to the commune center; 100% of communes have primary and lower secondary schools; 100% of communes have health clinics, of which 96% of communes have qualified clinics; 100% of communes, wards and towns and 100% of hamlets receive electricity from the national electricity grid; 85.52% of communes and wards have cultural houses and 88.26% of hamlets and villages have houses for community activities; 98% of households and ethnic minority areas use hygienic water (the percentage of ethnic minority households using hygienic water is 97.5%).

Programmes and projects under the national target programme on poverty reduction have achieved positive results. In 2016, Soc Trang had nearly 58,000 poor households (accounting for 18%), of which the number of Khmer ethnic households was nearly 27,000. By the end of 2021, according to the new criteria, the whole province had 22,120 poor households (accounting for 6.64%); ethnic minority households 10,412 households (accounting for 8.98%/total ethnic minority households); 29,403 near-poor households (accounting for 8.83%); ethnic minority households 12,067 households (accounting for 10.44%).

A number of models to support the development of production, diversify livelihoods, and expand poverty reduction models have helped people increase their incomes. Notably, the models for raising dairy cows, raising goats, growing crops... have helped people, especially the Khmer ethnic group eliminate hunger, reduce poverty, and develop sustainably.

Không khí rộn ràng của đồng bào Khmer đón mừng lễ Senđônta của đồng bào Khmer năm 2022 diễn ra từ ngày 24-26/9. (Ảnh: Phương Nghi)
The atmosphere of the Khmer people preparing for the Sen Dolta festival which will take place from September 24-26. (Photo: Phuong Nghi)

In order to increase the effects of policy implementation, especially the implementation of the national target programme for socio-economic development in ethnic minority and mountainous areas in the 2021-2030 period, the Soc Trang Provincial Party Committee has issued Resolution No. 04/NQ/TU, dated 9/7/2021 on leadership for the implementation of the programme, on that basis, the Provincial People's Committee issued the Implementation Plan for Phase I from 2021 to 2025.

Ly Rotha, Head of Soc Trang province's Committee for Ethnic Minority Affairs, said: According to the plan, the national target program for socio-economic development in ethnic minority areas in Soc Trang in the 2021-2025 period has a total capital of over 790 billion VND.

From this capital, Soc Trang province is expected to focus on solving the shortage of residential land, houses, production land, and water for nearly 4,500 households with a total capital of over 176 billion VND, focusing on ethnic minorities in poor areas. The province will use over 272 billion VND to invest in essential infrastructure for production and life in ethnic minority areas.

Rotha said: “This contributes to narrowing the gap between the living standards and income among ethnic minorities and the province's average income; gradually reducing the number of communes and hamlets with special difficulties; and building socio-economic infrastructure to meet the requirements of socio-economic development and the people's lives.”

Sen Dolta Festival is one of the traditional festivals with special meaning to the spiritual life of Khmer ethnic people. Along with the attention and care of the Party and State, Khmer people in Phum and Soc are having a joyful festival. This motivates Khmer people to continue to preserve and promote the nation’s fine traditional values, promote the spirit of great national unity, contribute to the development of an advanced Vietnamese culture deeply imbued with national identity.

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(Translated by Tue Anh)