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Visak Bochea Day, a National Holiday

By: Norbert Klein Posted: April-29-2010 in
Norbert Klein

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662

Deum Ampil had reported that “Cambodia will celebrate on Visak Bochea Day the birth, enlightenment and death to Nirvana of Lord Buddha on one day, the first full moon day on 28 April this year.

“’The ceremony this year will be presided over by Samdech Heng Samrin, President of the National Assembly, and it is conducted at Phnom Udong,’ quoting a statement from the National Assembly. Buddhists around the world will mark the same day.

“This year also marks the Buddhist calendar year 2553.”

In order to share with our readers, especially the international readers, some more information about the role of this commemoration nowadays, I talked to some people, asking them about the meaning of Visak Bochea for them.

Everybody I talked to identified the day as the day remembering the birth of the Buddha – therefore some people called it “a day similar to Christmas on the Christian calendar.”

So what happens on this day? “Cambodian people go to the pagoda.” – “Did you go?” – “No. This is something old people do.” – This was the tenor of all responses I got, and I record this here, because it is obviously a problem that merits attention and discussion: What does this disjunct mean between the claimed action of “the Cambodian people,” and the inner distance expressed towards this tradition and its celebration. Occasional appeals “to uphold Khmer culture” will not bring much more clarity. What is the meaning of the basic values, described in Article 43 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia – when it is known, but not finding much active and lively response?

  • Khmer citizens of either sex shall have the right to freedom of belief.
  • Freedom of religious belief and worship shall be guaranteed by the State on the condition that such freedom does not affect other religious beliefs or violate public order and security.
  • Buddhism shall be the religion of the State.

This article was first published by The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 662 - Wednesday, 28.4.2010
Have a look at the last editorial - you can access it directly from the main page of The Mirror.

Norbert Klein is the Editor of The Mirror – The Mirror is a daily comprehensive summary and translation of the major Khmer language press - More about The Mirror

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