A Change of Guard

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Sunday, 14 April 2013

CULTURE: Cambodian new year at San Bernardino temple [in California]

Posted on | April 12, 2013
The Press-Enterprise
Dancers perform during a 2010 Cambodian new year celebration at the Temple of the Khmer Buddhist Society in San Bernardino. Frank Bellino/Special to The Press-Enterprise
Dancers perform during a 2010 Cambodian new year celebration at the Temple of the Khmer Buddhist Society in San Bernardino. Frank Bellino/Special to The Press-Enterprise

More than 2,000 people are expected to celebrate the Cambodian new year this weekend at the Temple of the Khmer Buddhist Society of San Bernardino.
The crowd for the festival has been growing steadily for the past several years, said Rasmey Sam, executive director of San Bernardino’s Asian-American Resource Center, which is cosponsoring the event.
The Cambodian-born Sam said that in the past many Inland Cambodians traveled to Long Beach – home to Southern California’s largest Cambodian community – to celebrate the new year.
“Now people don’t have to go to Long Beach,” he told me. “In fact, people from Long Beach come here.”
The Inland area’s Cambodian population is smaller than Long Beach’s. But while the number of people of Cambodian ancestry in Long Beach is falling, the number in the Inland Empire is rising rapidly, according to U.S. Census Bureau estimates.
In a 2005-07 census survey period, there were just over 6,100 Cambodians in Riverside and San Bernardino counties. By 2009-11, there were more than 10,500.
That reflects the rapid growth in the overall Inland Asian American community. The number of Asian Americans in the Inland area nearly doubled between the 2000 and 2010 censuses, to 260,000 people.
This weekend’s new year festival features a performance Saturday by Phan Raskmey Pich, who lives in Cambodia and is in San Bernardino visiting family members, Sam said.
There also will be traditional dancing, games and food.
The celebration is from 12:30 to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 8 p.m. Sunday, Sam said.
The Venerable Sokha Chan, the chief of monks at the temple, is scheduled to open the celebration at 1:10 p.m. Saturday. Sam, Mayor Patrick Morris, San Bernardino County Supervisor Josie Gonzales and Assemblyman Mike Morrell, R-Rancho Cucamonga are among the others expected to speak.
The temple is at 1595 Hardt St. For more information, call  909-383-0164 .
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