Sunday, May 10, 2009

Cambodia Celebrates Visakha Bochea Ceremony

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

About 50,000 Cambodians including Buddhist monks, nuns and laymen who proclaim Buddhism have attended celebrations for Visakha Bochea Day, May 8 at the Udong Mountain, known as “Phnom Addharus”. According to tradition, the Buddha’s ashes were located in Ponhear Leu district, in Kandal province.

Besides regular worshippers, senators, Members of the National Assembly and other government officials participated in this religious ceremony.

This annual ceremony is arranged by the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals (NCONIF) and is presided over by Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly. The ceremony implores the Lord Buddha to provide grace and merit upon the faithful.

Chea Kean, Deputy General Director of NCONIF said that this year of Visakha Bochea marks the Buddhist calendar year 2553.

Chea Kean said that as over 90 percent of Cambodians are Buddhists, Visakha Bochea or Buddha Day is a very important day in the life of the nation.

The Deputy General Director pointed out that Visakha Bochea is celebrated to mark the Buddha’s birthday, to commemorate the Buddha’s enlightenment, and to mark the death of the Buddha, taken to have occurred during the first full moon day in May.

He said that given the importance of the day, the United Nations (UN) has recognized Visakha Bochea as an international holiday and celebrates this religious ceremony at UN Head Quarters every year.

Um Sok, Chief of the Kraing Thnong Pagoda, said that Visakha Bochea is very important for Cambodian people. Its main purpose is to encourage the people to be nicer to each other, to meditate and to adhere to the moral principles of Dharma, the source of the advice and teaching of the Buddha.

Um Sok said that the religious ceremony underpinned by good commitments, sincerity, solidarity, peace and morality for the people of Cambodia.

“I think that Visakha Bochea Day underlines the fact that the Buddha is the most enlightened and, in my opinion, the most important person in the world. Thus, as followers of Buddha, we should celebrate it and follow His advice and teaching,” he told The Cambodia Weekly during a personal interview on May 7.

He said for Buddhist monks, nuns or laymen who obeyed the Buddha’s advice and teaching, a world of real peace of mind awaited them.

He called on Cambodian people, especially youths to do good works, to avoid acts of violence, robbery, adultery and drug abuse so that they might teach others by example.

Hok Somaly, 56, a businessperson in Phnom Penh who attended the Visakha Bochea Day celebrations in Udong Mountain, said that she was happy to attend.

Somaly said that she has been participating for five years now.

“As a Buddhist, I think that Visakha Bochea Day is very important for me and my family. To mark the Lord Buddha’s grace and merit, I think my family and I will celebrate it for as long as we live,” she told the Cambodia Weekly. ////

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