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Closed-door policy at Kroeung village festival

Fines of pigs, chickens, wine and money have been dished out to about 10 Kroeung ethnic residents who entered or left their village during a special village-closing ceremony in Ratanakkiri province this week.

Today is the final day of the five-day ceremony, which is usually held to celebrate a new achievement in the village, but can also be organised at the whim of the village chieftain.

The occasion for the ceremony this year was the recent completion of a new village hall, and already 10 people have been stung for arriving at the celebrations late or leaving early, said Krola Buntin, an official of Tern commune.

“No one is allowed to enter or leave the village, and if they do, they are fined pigs, chickens and wine,” he said.

“If they don’t have these things, we fine them money.

“It is our culture and we do it once every three or seven years,” he said.

Sous Musa, 38, a villager who moved from Kampong Cham province to live in Tern commune in 1993, said the transit restrictions were affecting livelihoods.

“I thought this was very strange when I first came to live here, and I don’t want to see this culture keep doing this, because it is difficult for us as businessmen and farmers,” he said, adding crops were often destroyed because they could not be exported.

People had been fined as much as 1 million riel (US$250) as well as being forced to hand over pigs and wine, he said.

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