Monday, March 16, 2015

Sunday Morning at Wat Bo

A Cambodian man makes merit by giving monks money during a mass merit making at Wat Bo in Siem Reap. 

We went for a walk through Siem Reap Sunday morning during our weekend getaway to Angkor. 

Siem Reap and Thailand have a complicated history (for that matter, Thailand and Cambodia have a complicated history). Siem Reap is Khmer for "The place we defeated the Siamese (Thais)" or words to that effect because Khmer (Cambodian) forces dealt Siamese forces a crushing defeat there in the 1500s. On the other hand, the Siamese came back in the 1800s and governed western Cambodia until the French colonization in the late 1800s pushed the Siamese back to Thailand. 

Wat Bo, a large temple in Siem Reap, was built as the temple to meet the needs of Siamese soldiers garrisoned in Siem Reap.
A Cambodian woman prays during the mass merit making ceremony.

Each year, in the middle of March, Wat Bo hosts a large merit making ceremony for all of the Buddhist monks in Siem Reap province. This year the merit making ceremony happened to be on the Sunday we went walkabout. Through happenstance we ended up at Wat Bo, along with 1,300 Buddhist monks and even more Cambodian lay people. 

In the mass merit making ceremonies I've covered in Thailand, monks walk in long rows between lay people sitting on the ground. At Wat Bo, the monks are seated and the lay people walk among them. 1,300 monks is a lot of monks and Wat Bo is big but not that big. There were monks sitting almost everywhere throughout the temple grounds. 
A woman prays with a bundle of cash she was donating to monks at Wat Bo. 

There were a few other foreigners there but not very many. This was a Cambodian ceremony that apparently flies under the radar of most of the tourists. 
Monks leave the ceremony in tuk-tuks (three wheeled taxis). 

It was an interesting way to spend a Sunday morning. There are more photos of the merit making ceremony in my archive

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