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Water Festival cancelled amid prolonged pandemic

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Water festival celebrations in Phnom Penh back in 2019. Heng Chivoan

Water Festival cancelled amid prolonged pandemic

Minister of Interior Sar Kheng said this year’s Water Festival, which falls on November 18-20, will not occur due to the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic.

Sar Kheng announced the cancellation during the appointment of the new governor of Battambang province on October 11.

“It is now October and the government has decided that this year the Water Festival will not take place due to Covid-19. But in 2022, we will have an important event for the nation, and that is the commune council election,” he said.

Sar Kheng urged the general public to continue working together to prevent the spread of Covid by adjusting their lives to the new normal as the pandemic has not abated.

“Until now, no one can exactly predict when the pandemic will subside. So, if the problem persists it will continue to affect our economy, society and people’s livelihoods. That’s why we have to learn to live with the disease,” he said.

The Committee for Organising National and International Festivals could not be reached for comment on October 11.

Prime Minister Hun Sen on October 6 also hinted that Water Festival celebrations would not take place this year, but the public holiday will remain for people to enjoy.

The festival — which aligns with the date of the full moon in the Khmer lunar calendar month of Kadeuk (or Kartika in Sanskrit) when the rice crops in paddy fields are ready for harvest — was also postponed last year due to the pandemic.

Construction worker Buth Ra, 25, said he supported postponing the festival because he feared the spread of the coronavirus, which could significantly surge during and after the festival.

“Everyone, including me, wants to be happy and take a break to meet family and friends. But like we all know, our country still faces an outbreak so it’s better not to have this festival,” he said.

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