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Two Villages in Preah Vihear Province Celebrate Neak Ta in Koh Ker Temple Area

PREAH VIHEAR: A team from the Department of Research, Training and Documentation of the National Authority of Preah Vihear province visited and observed two ancient villages in the Koh Ker temple area — Koh Ker village and Sambo village — as they practiced their unique animistic beliefs. One of the many ceremonies held every year in February is called the Lerng Neak Ta (ancestral or tutelary deity) ceremony.

Every year in the Khmer month of Meak, which is in February, the villagers of Sambo and Koh Ker villages in Srayong commune, Kulen district, Preah Vihear province, celebrate the Lerng Neak Ta ceremony because they believe that doing so will bring them happiness and prosperity and will protect them against various incidents, problems, and malignant diseases.

The ancestral ceremony in Sambo Village is similar to the ancestral ceremony of Koh Ker Village — they both have the same common purpose. The villagers pray and ask for happiness as well as the ability to make a good living through farming from the ancestor and spirit who is believed to preside over their village. The ceremony involves one person from the village acting as a medium or vessel for the spirit to enter, and the villagers believe they can communicate directly with the spirit while inhabiting the villager's body.

This ceremony is also done every year in order to drive away evil spirits from their community.

The Department of Research, Training and Documentation of the National Authority of Preah Vihear province will soon document the history of this ceremony to disseminate to society so that people can better understand the ancestral heritage and superstitious religious beliefs of the people in these villages.

The National Authority of Preah Vihear has stated that it believes the preservation of the ancestral traditions of Sambo and Koh Ker villagers has helped to promote tourism around superstitious religions, and is also an important part of preserving the unique community identity left behind by ancestors. Through these preservation practices, the next generation of Cambodians, as well as people from all around the world, can know and learn about the unique and diverse cultures, customs, traditions, and religions of Cambodian ancestors.

It should be noted that people who live in the Angkor area of Siem Reap province also organize and partake in a similar ancient ceremony seeking happiness and peace and wishing to expel bad spirits and diseases, just as practiced in Preah Vihear province.



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