A village in Cambodia (2)

Khmer Wat

Photos from Sinan’s childhood home. Courtesy, Khmer Gallery.

Young Novice

Young novice


Village drum




By Sinan, whose native language is Khmer.  

      [PART TWO]

BUDDHIST monasteries are everywhere in Cambodia. They serve as the center of village activities—such as weddings, parties and traditional ceremonies. It is also a place of entertainment when festivals come to the village, and it is the location of the village crematorium [the place where the bodies of those who have died are burned]. 

     The monastery or “wat” is the center for the study and practice of Buddhist teachings, and is often a place of refuge or sanctuary [a safe resting place] for the poor or the ill. While the wat’s place or influence in education is much less due, to reforms carried out by the government in the 1960s, the wat remains the symbol of social and religious values.

     The residents of the wat are monks, nuns and laymen. Early in the morning, monks leave the monastery to go on “rounds” carrying their alms bowls—into which the villagers put food and rice to feed the monks during the day. In the past, the majority [most] of Cambodian boys or men spent some period of time as monks to gain a Buddhist education and to earn merit for their parents.

     I lived near a wat and my primary school is still in its compound. [compound: many buidings all together]  My family worshiped there every Buddhist festival and on special days. I have many fond [warm] memories of it. One unforgettable memory is of a dawn and dusk drum. Monks beat the drum to tell the villagers the time: when to wake up, when to start work, and when to return home from the paddy [rice] fields. The sweet sound of a drum played an important role in helping us live and work when there was no other way to keep track of time. Every morning my brothers and I would be ready for school after the drum sounded 7 times. It was the start of a new day for the village.

Part one can be found HERE.

 ©InterestEng. July 2013  §  The stories in the magazine portion of the site are written by English language learners. Stories are corrected by a native English speaker.  § Photos are staff or used with permission.  §  To contact us:  go.gently.on@gmail.com