Wat Svay Pope, Phnom Penh
Cambodia has more in store to surprise me. This time structures that I fell in love with are the eye-catching stupas inside the Buddhist pagodas. I was quite impressed to know what they are. A graveyard inside a place of worship?! During one of the trips to the provinces, an English speaking Khmer gentleman explained to me that when the Buddhists die their ashes are housed in these stupas or ‘cheidei ‘. Khmer people believe in reincarnation, they cremate their dead. They keep the ashes in these stupas.
Entrance to Wat Lanka
‘Cheidei’ or stupas where the ashes are kept
Top portion of the stupa containing the ashes of HM Ang Duong( founder of the present dynasty) in the Royal Palace compound.
Usually affluent Khmer people have stupas or the monumental tombs in the wat (temple) premises (The reason for my surprise element is that Hindu temples would never allow the entry of the ashes of the deceased in its premises). These tomb stones are captivating with their fine intricate carvings on them. The ashes of the members of a family are put inside the stupas through the entrance door to the stupa. On auspicious days offerings are kept inside the ‘cheidei’. Almost all the pagodas I have seen in and around Phnom Penh have these beautifully designed stupas. Stupas of various sizes and colours and shapes are seen. As in the case of the spirit houses the wealthy have the more ornate stupas, I presume. The ones in the photos are in the premises of Wat Lanka in Phnom Penh.
Entrance door to the stupa
Interesting to know that the departed ancestors are treated so well in Cambodia! (Hope those alive are treated equally well) Cheidei as an abode for the family members after their life on earth and spirit houses for the wandering spirits. Offerings in the form of food,drinks, money, incense sticks etc are given to them. A two-week celebration called Ancestors’ Day or Pchum Ben in the month of October is specially dedicated for them.During this period every Cambodian visits as many pagodas as possible carrying home cooked food for the departed souls! Blessed are you the spirits of the Kingdom Of Cambodia!
During Pchum Ben festival Khmer people paying respect to the diceased by offering food and money at Wat Ounalom
Stupas at Wat Langka