PHNOM PENH, Jan. 30 (Xinhua) -- Chinese traditional lion and dragon dances have been staged in Cambodia to celebrate the Chinese New Year, or Spring Festival, which arrives on Friday.
Five lion and dragon dance groups performed at the Royal Palace in the capital Phnom Penh on Thursday and then, at the Chinese Embassy to Cambodia before going elsewhere throughout the country.
At the Royal Palace, the groups were welcomed by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Royal Palace Kong Sam Ol, while at the Chinese Embassy, they were greeted by Ambassador Bu Jianguo.
Luo Si Xing, vice-president of the Chinese Association in Cambodia, said the dances were to wish the Cambodian people and overseas Chinese people happiness, fortune and prosperity in the New Year.
"It is also to preserve and promote Chinese culture in Cambodia, " he said.
The Spring Festival is the most important festival in China, which marks the end of the winter and the start of the spring.
"May the Year of the Horse bring luck, fortune and prosperity to the peoples of China and Cambodia," Ambassador Bu said.
Lion dances are invited by Chinese families to perform as a symbolic ritual to usher in the Spring Festival and to ward off bad luck and evil spirits.
Chinese New Year is not a public holiday in Cambodia, but is commonly celebrated, said Samrang Kamsan, a secretary of state at the Cambodian Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.
According to the figures of the Chinese Association in Cambodia, more than 700,000 Chinese descendants are living in Cambodia.