Hundreds of monks will observe Meak Bochea Day on Kandal province’s Oudong mountain today, the first time the ceremony will take place in the absence of an urn said to contain relics of the Buddha since it was brought to the stupa in 2002.
High-ranking parliamentarians will also join the festivities, which is a public holiday in many Buddhist nations intended to remind followers of the Buddha’s teachings.
Police officials and representatives of the sangha yesterday said that the urn, which was stolen on December 10, will remain at the Royal Palace until work had been completed to repair a leaky roof at the stupa that used to house the priceless artefact.
Khim Sorn, Phnom Penh municipal director of monks, said yesterday that nearly 600 monks will attend the event at Oudong mountain today.
“At least one representative from the Royal Palace will attend with 80 senior monks and all of the public are welcome to join this ceremony together,” he said, adding that a “water leak” was being fixed at the site where the urn would be kept.
Oum Daravuth, a member of the Royal Palace cabinet, said yesterday that “our King holds the ceremony of Meak Bochea every year at the Royal Palace, just to pray to the Buddha and offer food to monks.”
He added that he did not know when the urn will be taken back to Oudong.
Eav Chamroeung, Kandal provincial police chief, said that “to tell you the truth, the relic will not yet to go to Oudong, because inside the stupa needs to be renovated”.
Sorn said that the ceremony could go ahead without the urn, which was one of the central components of the event in previous years.
“We prayed to five things [in the past]. Although there’s no relics at Oudong anymore, we still can hold this ceremony, because the day is important for two reasons,” he said.
“First is to remember the 1,250 disciples of Buddha who visited Buddha without any prior appointment, to listen to his last sermon. Second, it’s the day Buddha announced his passing.”