Pandemic forces cancellation of popular Cambodian holiday for second year in a row

Pandemic forces cancellation of popular Cambodian holiday for second year in a row

For the second year in a row, Stockton’s storied Cambodian New Year festival has been canceled because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, temple leaders have announced.

The annual celebration, which falls this year on April 13, draws people from all over the U.S. to celebrate the New Year, the Year of the Ox in 2021. It is one of the year’s most significant holidays for Cambodians, along with the Pchum Ben festival in October in which they honor their ancestors.

Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Temple board member and publicist Lee Inn said that the celebration is being called off again this year “to reassure our guests and staff (that their) well-being and safety is our utmost priority.

“Out of an abundance of caution the temple continues to work with local health authorities while strictly adhering to advice from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,” he said. “On behalf of Wat Dhammararam Buddhist Association Inc., we regret for any inconvenience that may cause.”

The south Stockton temple is spiritual home to thousands of Cambodians who live in the community, and every year the celebration set amid its colorful Buddhist statues draws some 15,000 or more to sample Cambodian culture and music and feast on Khmer delicacies.

Last year, the 90 colorful statues that tell the story of Buddha stood alone and in silence at the temple, at 3732 E. Carpenter Road, absent of the crowds and families chattering and gathering to take pictures during the annual celebration.

The pandemic has taken a toll at the temple, which has suffered a loss in funding that forced leaders to sharply scale back plans for an ambitious towering structure called Heaven, where people would be able to gather, learn and pray. Temple leaders hope the new year celebration can resume next year.

“We looking forward to brighter, more promising days ahead for 2022,” Inn said.
The San Joaquin Asparagus Festival, also canceled last year due to COVID-19, will go on this year as the San Joaquin Asparagus Days, organizers announced.

The event, including the popular Asparagus Alley, will take place May 13-16 at the Stockton 99 Speedway, 4105 N. Wilson Way, The Noceti Group said in a statement.


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