Blessed are you, the spirits of Cambodia!

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Wat Svay Pope, Phnom Penh

Cambodia has more in store to surprise me. This time  structures that I fell in love with are the eye-catching stupas inside the Buddhist pagodas. I was quite impressed to know what they are. A graveyard inside a place of worship?! During one of the trips to the provinces, an English speaking Khmer gentleman explained to me that when the Buddhists die their ashes are housed in these stupas or ‘cheidei ‘.  Khmer people believe in reincarnation, they cremate their dead. They keep the ashes in these stupas.DSC_1177

Entrance to Wat Lanka

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‘Cheidei’ or stupas where the ashes are kept

Top portion of the stupa containing the ashes of  HM Ang Duong( founder of the present dynasty) in the Royal Palace compound.

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Usually affluent Khmer people have stupas or the monumental tombs in the wat (temple) premises (The reason for my surprise element is that Hindu temples would never allow the entry of the ashes of the deceased in its premises). These tomb stones are captivating with their fine intricate carvings on them. The ashes of the members of a family are put inside the stupas through the entrance  door to the stupa. On auspicious days offerings are kept inside the ‘cheidei’. Almost all the pagodas I have seen in and around Phnom Penh have these beautifully designed stupas. Stupas of various sizes and colours  and shapes are seen. As in the  case of the spirit houses the wealthy have the more ornate stupas, I presume. The ones in the photos are in the premises of Wat Lanka in Phnom Penh.

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Entrance door to the stupa

Interesting to know that the departed ancestors are treated so well in Cambodia! (Hope those alive  are treated equally well) Cheidei as an abode for the family members after their life on earth and spirit houses for the wandering spirits. Offerings in the form of food,drinks, money, incense sticks etc are given to them. A two-week celebration called Ancestors’ Day or Pchum Ben in the month of October  is specially dedicated for them.During this period every Cambodian visits as many pagodas as possible carrying home cooked food for the departed souls! Blessed are you  the spirits of the Kingdom Of Cambodia!

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During Pchum Ben festival Khmer people paying respect to the diceased by offering food and money at Wat Ounalom

Stupas at Wat Langka

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