PHNOM PENH, Jan. 22 (Xinhua) -- Chinese traditional lion and dragon dances have begun performances in Cambodia on Sunday to celebrate coming Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 23.
The dances started from the Royal Palace, then to the Chinese Embassy in Phnom Penh before going elsewhere across the country.
The six groups of lion and dragon dances from the Chinese community in Cambodia had performed at the Royal Palace to bless Cambodia with happiness and prosperity in the New Year, Lao Shi Heng, vice-president of Chinese Association in Cambodia, said.
The groups were welcomed by Kuy Sophal, senior minister in charge of public affairs at the Royal Palace.
Later, at the Chinese Embassy, the groups were greeted by the ambassador Pan Guangxue.
"The Lunar New Year is the most important festival in China," he said, adding that it marked the end of the winter and the start of the spring.
The ambassador has also hailed overseas Chinese for promoting Chinese custom and tradition in Cambodia.
"May the Year of the Dragon bring luck, fortune and prosperity to China and the world," he said.
Traditionally, lion dance is 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 one of the largest festivals in Cambodia, up to 80 percent of Cambodian people celebrate it every year, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen said in a public speech in last January.
According to the figures from the Chinese Association in Cambodia, there are some 700,000 Chinese descendants living in Cambodia.