More than 1,000 people flocked to Oudong Mountain in Kandal province yesterday to observe Meak Bochea Day, which marks the day the Buddha prophesied his own death.
Nguon Nhel, second vice president of the National Assembly, presided over the ceremony accompanied by many lawmakers and government officials.
Meak Bochea Day is celebrated at Oudong Mountain because it is home to relics of the Buddha.
Both great supreme patriarchs of the Mohanikaya and Dhammayudh sects of Buddhism, Tep Vong and Bou Kry, also joined the ceremony which lasted two hours.
The Venerable Bou Kry told reporters that all Buddhists enjoyed Meak Bochea Day.
“We are very happy to celebrate this ceremony because it is an official national ceremony,” he said.
Cults and Religion Ministry undersecretary of state Nhean Phoeun, who is also an advisor to the National Committee for Organising National and International Festivals, said that 300 monks including both great supreme patriarchs were in attendance.
“According to my monitoring, this year had more people than last year,” said Mr Phoeun, adding that the reason for the spike in attendance was because Cambodia had peace.
“Now Cambodia really has peace, which enables people to live with happiness,” he said.
Chiem Phary, 50, came from Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district with her children and relatives to enjoy the day’s festivities.
“This is a big ceremony for any country around the world that believes in and respects Buddhism. I am very happy to have come today,” she said.
Nop Nuon, 74, a man living near Oudong Mountain, noticed how all the people attending the ceremony were very happy as some prepared food, soft drinks and cash to offer to the monks.
“I hope Cambodia has peace forever because we don’t want to go back to the Pol Pot days when we weren’t allowed to have a religion,” he said. “I want the peace we now enjoy.”
In December 2013, an urn containing relics of the Buddha was stolen from a stupa at Oudong Mountain. It was discovered months later in a farmer’s kitchen.
In 2015, Kandal Provincial Court sentenced Keo Reaksmey to seven years in prison along with four stupa guards – Chorm Thai, Sieng Sarin, Pha Sokhem and Ka Sat – for the theft. The relics were returned to the stupa in 2016.