T he ancient temples of Angkor Wat and the Bayon came alive last weekend with the
chanting and celebration of 800 monks and nuns in saffron and white robes
commemorating the end of the Dhamma Yietra march for peace and
Some 1,200 marchers including lay people, local villagers
and two foreigners walked quietly, unheralded, into Siem Reap town on May 13 for
the ceremonies to mark the end of the march. While there were rumors of possible
Khmer Rouge attacks in the Siem Reap environs, the march concluded on a
much-appreciated peaceful note.
The shuffling of the marchers, thronged
feet was the only noise to announce the arrival of the procession in Siem Reap
town, marking the completion of a 175 km walk.
The hazards of the
procession claimed the lives of two marchers.
One monk and one nun were
killed when they were caught in crossfire between Khmer Rouge and government
soldiers in Bavel district in Battambang, five days after setting
Another two people were injured in the attack. However, there were
no injuries from mines and major health problems were avoided.
deaths increased the value of our message for both the government and the Khmer
Rouge," said the march leader, Supreme Patricarch Maha Ghosananda.
Nobel peace prize nominee told the Post he believed the march had achieved some
peace and reduced fighting a little, but said any long-term peace would only
"We aim at peace step by step, like breathing in and
breathing out, like walking, like the way we built this monument," he explained,
sitting at the foot of the central tower of Angkor Wat.
want peace also. They're tired of fighting each other. They are Khmer fighting
Khmer, it's no good, they know," he added.
Maha Ghosananda said he would
lead a peace march every year from now on, even if the fighting ceased.
The marchers prepared for the final leg of their journey to Siem Reap in
a scene of idyllic peace on the banks of the Barai Tegtlar, a dam eight
kilometers north-west of Siem Reap town, picnicking, swimming and skylarking in
canoes and rubber tires.
As the saffron and white pilgrimage dotted with
golden banners and umbrellas and colourful Buddhist flags, wound its way from
the Barai through the forest and out on to Route 6, with the peaks of the
procession's Mecca, Angkor Wat, visible in the distance, villagers kneeled by
the roadside behind tables laden with water offering water from tables.
Leading monks threw water over women and girls who knelt with clasped
hands and bowed heads. The marchers were greeted at Wat Dam Nach in Siem Reap
town by Maha Ghosananda, who had gone ahead earlier, standing underneath a
"But there's been no rain today. It must be a sign of
peace," exclaimed one nun.
Over the weekend the processions continued,
marching from the town, passed Angkor Wat, to the Bayon temple at Angkor
On May 16 the marchers held a final closing ceremony immediately
beneath the central tower of the temple with multi-colored balloons and an
orchestra before loading into trucks to transport them back to their home
For those left fighting, Maha Ghosananda said one thing must
be remembered: "Hatred is never ceased by hatred. Hatred is ceased by loving
kindness. This is the eternal law."