Held in Jaya House River Park on Saturday, at least 400 monks from seven surrounding pagodas were invited to lead a blessing ceremony to “purify the psyche and stop all the negativity”, in honour of the Meak Bochea Day.
The festival was organised with an aim to introduce the religious festival, which is commonly celebrated in Buddhist countries in the region, to tourists who are staying in the cultural heart of Cambodia.
At least 200 people, both Siem Reap residents and visitors, attended the evening blessing ceremony to discover the rich culture and traditions of the Kingdom.
Those present were asked to comply to a strict dress code, particularly with shoulders and knees covered. This is meant to pay respect to the religious authorities and monks.
After the guests had gathered in the common area of Jaya House, the priests began the ceremony by requesting all participants to put their palms together and sit in silence as they listened carefully to the monks.
Meak Bochea Day recognises the last sermon given by Buddha, in which he outlined the “heart of Buddhism” in three standards: stopping all malicious, doing just what is great, and purifying the psyche.
It is additionally said that, on this day, Buddha effectively anticipated the day of his own demise, which happened three months after the fact. The day of his demise was additionally the day of his introduction to the world and his purported illumination encounter.
Cambodian Buddhists always pay high respect to religious events. On Meak Bochea Day, the Buddhists would usually visit pagoda or other venues – clad in a proper outfit like a white top and long skirt or trousers – to also perform a “candle ceremony”.
This specific ceremony will see Buddhists holding flowers, candles or incense sticks while circling the venue three times as they recite the prayers to themselves. In the rare case where there is limited space, worshippers can do the same while staying still.
Meak Bochea used to be one of the national holidays in Cambodia. This religious event is not only celebrated in Cambodia but also on the same lunar date in Thailand, which is another Buddhist country along the Mekong region.