Christmas in Cambodia

  • There are about 20,000 Roman Catholic Christians in modern Cambodia representing the 0.15% of the total population that is mostly Buddhist. 
  • Although Protestant churches state that they made the 2% of the Cambodian population with about 1,000 worship places in the country, their number is not official and they could be less than 10,000. 
  • The second largest religious group of Cambodia is Muslims represented in the Cham minority that could be much largest than all Christians combined. 

Cambodia is one of those few countries with a State Official Religion according to its Political Constitution: Theravada Buddhism:

“Cambodian Citizens of both sexes shall have the right to belief. The freedom of religious belief and practices shall be guaranteed by the State on condition that they do not affect other beliefs, orders and public security. Buddhism is the State religion.” (Art. 43)

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A group of Catholic youth in Kep Province celebrating the start of Advent Season on December 8, 2014.

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Guard of the monks at the riverside

guy at the river side

There is a Western gentleman at the Phnom Penh riverside with a Buddhist monk aspect with whom I had a bitter discussion this Monday. I was a guest at the Colombian television channel, Teleantioquia, doing a documentary about my work in Cambodia since 1999. The journalists asked me to buy two birds and approach the river freeing them. As I walked with the two birds, I opened my hands and let the two little animals to escape to freedom over the high waters of the Basac River.

Suddenly this gentleman approached the journalists saying that they must ask permission from Buddhist monks to film them. Few meters from my place were two young monks that were, by the way, curious of my action. Continue reading

Buddhism and Ecology

Phnom Sosir Kep Province 26 December 2012 (32)

Image of Buddha at the main on top of the Sosir Hill shrine in Kep Province. Photo Al Rodas 2012.

The report of an European Union Delegation to Cambodia, says that ‘environmental and natural resources in Cambodia are threatened by short-sighted over-exploitation on an increasing and threatening scale. This reduces the Country’s overall natural capital, yet whilst great benefits flow to the few; equally great burdens fall on the many.’

Actually, there are thousands of pages on issues like this about Cambodia, mostly produced in English and French with some Khmer translations that few read or analyses. Most of those reports are true, of course, but they remain in archives and, in many occasions, are overlooked or despised by Cambodian leaders as arrogant meddling of Westerns. Continue reading

Cambodians smile a lot

For Cambodians, smile means harmony, welcome to others and peace. It comes probably from Buddhism, where smile is considered a spiritual virtue. Photo Al Rodas.

I asked Lim Socheat to explain to me why Cambodians smile too much. When he listened my question, he smiled and tried to explain me. The topic came because an European friend asked me the meaning of the Cambodian smile. We smile very much in most Latin American countries, though I can say that in some regions there are more smiling behavior than others. The African smile is also attractive plus their persons involved with music and dance in their daily life. In Asia, not every country is smiling, for example, Chinese people do not smile to strangersContinue reading

Dogs are friends!

I know we have many problems with human rights just now, but dogs in Cambodia face a worst fate. At least humans can join and create associations to defend their rights, but dogs, evidently, no. Then I declare myself a dogs’ right advocate also, including cats, tigers, monkeys, elephants, the pristine Cambodian jungles under threat and even the tiny sea horses of the Sihanoukville Bay destroyed under the idea they are natural medicine. Continue reading

Government asked to remove Judgement Day advertisement

Phnom Penh. The Judgment Day would be this coming Saturday, May 21st, according to a US evangelist pastor of 89 years old, Harold Camping, assuring that Jesus will return to the earth this weekend and that the event will cause an universal cataclysm. The suggestion was expressed in Cambodia, a mostly Buddhist country, through some signs of Cambo Advertising Co, to which the government asked to remove it in order to avoid public unrest. Camping did already a similar prediction in 1994, but his followers think that this time the religious man has found the exact end-of-the-world’s date in the Bible. In 2007 the Ministry of Religious Affairs forbade evangelical groups from doing religious propaganda in the villages, because they were crushing with pagodas. Freedom of religion is contemplated in the National Constitution, though Buddhism is established as the State official religion. Officials at the municipal department of commercial advertising said that the billboards had not license.

New Buddhist shrine opened in Sihanoukville

The Buddhist authorities of Sihanoukville opened a new shrine in the city near the Independence Monument in a program that lasted for three days (March 18 to 20.) A number of 560 Buddhist monks coming from provinces as Preah Sihanouk, Kompong Cham, Takeo, Siem Reap, Kratie and Svay Rieng assisted to the ceremonies leaded by Reverend Savoung Sarat, Buddhist authority in the province.

By Chhin Sieng