In Cambodia, 200 young men and women ordained on Buddhist holy day

They’ll serve as monks and nuns for just more than a week to commemorate Buddha’s birth and enlightenment.
By RFA Khmer
2024.05.23

Nearly 200 young men and women were ordained as monks and nuns in Cambodia’s northwest at a ceremony that was held on Visak Bochea – a holy day that commemorates the birth, enlightenment and nirvana of the Buddha.

Buddhists usually mark the annual festival by going to their local pagoda. But others sometimes go a step further by volunteering to become monks and nuns for a short period.

The young men and women who were ordained this week in Battambang province will serve as monks and nuns for eight days. 

Approximately 200 young men and women were ordained as monks and nuns at a recent ceremony in Battambang province, Cambodia, May 22, 2024. (RFA)
Approximately 200 young men and women were ordained as monks and nuns at a recent ceremony in Battambang province, Cambodia, May 22, 2024. (RFA)

They’ll educate their minds through the practice of meditation with the belief that learning the Dharma – or the right way of living – can be beneficial for mental health.

“The purpose of this is to mainstream Buddhism to the youth because now in Cambodia we see that Buddhism pervades only with the elderly,” said Venerable Tuy Sokhim, the chief monk at Wat Sorya Ream in Battambang’s Moung Russey district.

Since 2016, monks at Wat Sorya Ream have ordained hundreds of young Cambodians every year on Visak Bochea. 

The ordinations help poor people who normally can’t afford to be ordained, Tuy Sokhim said. They also help with reaching out to younger people.

“The important thing is that we refine our youth to be moral, virtuous and grateful,” he said.

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Approximately 200 young men and women were ordained as monks and nuns at a recent ceremony in Battambang province, Cambodia, May 22, 2024. (RFA)

Becoming a nun for a week was a way to show respect to the older generation, according to Kong Srey Ne, a young woman who spoke with Radio Free Asia. The meditation practices have also helped her feel calm, she said.

“I decided to be ordained to pay gratitude to my parents for what I’ve done wrong in the past,” she said. 

An older participant – 57-year-old Soeum Pov – said he’s dreamed of becoming a monk for many years. 

“I love Buddhism, so I came to become a monk,” he said. “This ordination is to say goodbye to previous deeds to be better and safe in the future.”

Translated by Yun Samean. Edited by Matt Reed.

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