Villagers in Cambodia Pray to "Guardian Spirit" for Good Fortune, Rain

Organized at Boeung village in Prek Pnov district about 25 km from central Phnom Penh, the Pring Ka-ek guardian spirit festival was also aimed at driving off evil spirits. Photo from Chan Choeun/Facebook

PHNOM PENH -- About two dozen villagers in the Cambodian capital's northwestern suburb painted their faces and bodies as well as donned grass skirts on Tuesday as they held an annual traditional ceremony to pray to a "guardian spirit" for good fortune and rain.



Organized at Boeung village in Prek Pnov district about 25 km from central Phnom Penh, the Pring Ka-ek guardian spirit festival was also aimed at driving off evil spirits.



At the event, the participants painted and decorated themselves like jungle people, deities, wise old men, giants, demons, and ghosts, among others.



Sim Pum, 35, who performed as a wise old man at the event, said since he was a child, he has witnessed the villagers celebrating this ritual every year in order to ask the guardian spirit for happiness, good fortune and rain for rice planting.



"This is the centuries-old tradition of the villagers here," he told reporters at the event.



Painted and decorated himself like a giant in a Cambodian legend, Sok Rath, 27, said he had joined the ceremony every year since 2018.



"This is a tradition inherited from our ancestors since ancient times, so we try to preserve it for younger generations," he told Xinhua. "When we hold this ritual, our villagers have happiness, good luck and fortune, and there is rain enough for rice farming."



At the ceremony, body-painted and costumed participants paraded from the village towards a nearby Pring Ka-ek guardian spirit shrine, where they prayed for good luck and sufficient rain in the coming rainy season.



The ceremonial procession attracted hundreds of onlookers, who used their smartphones to film or take photographs of the scene.



Belief in spirits is dominant in Cambodia, where some 95 percent of the 17-million population are Buddhists.


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