Traditional Karen Music, dances and songs echoed in the Kent Covenant Church on January 5th to celebrate the Karen New Year. The event gave an opportunity for the young and older generation to share and celebrate Burmese culture. The Karen calendar began 739 years before the Gregorian (or Christian) calendar, when the Karen people arrived in Burma (Myanmar) from Mongolia. This year, the Karen New Year fell on January 12th.
Dancers and singers showcased beautiful traditional clothes made with silky and colorful fabric. Women wore elegant and decorated long dresses and weaved tops. Men put on finely embroidered white and blue shirt and skirts. The delicate fragrance of carefully prepared curry meats, sea food and rice perfumed the entire room.
Once again, this event offered an opportunity to the Karen refugee community to present a glimpse of their graceful style and diverse culture. As explained by Seattle-based Coalition for refugees from Burma:
"Burma is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world. Within the eight main ethnic groups with unique languages inhabiting the country, anthropologists have counted more than 130 distinctive subgroups. Of the estimated population of 55 million, the largest ethnic group, the Burmans, or Bamar, form about 68%. Occupying mainly territories in the various border regions are other ethnic groups, such as the Chin, Kachin, Karen, Kayah (Karenni), Mon, Rakhine, and Shan".
Celebrating Karen New Year with the Seattle-based local Karen community was a delightful moment. It offered at once a delectable bouquet of spicy scents, delicious flavors, harmonious melodies and colors.