The rigours of training coupled with oppressively hot weather caused dozens of adolescent monks to faint in Siem Reap on Saturday during the holiest ceremony on the Buddhist calendar.
All under 15 years of age, the “novice” monks were listening to a religious recitation on the grounds of the Angkor Wat temple when six dinnerless nights and the stifling heat finally overwhelmed them.
They were among thousands of monks, priests and nuns amassed at Angkor Wat to mark Visak Bochea, when the faithful commemorate the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha.
At least 30 of the novices buckled under the conditions and many were rushed to the main provincial hospital in Siem Reap, according to an official there.
Van Bunna, provincial director of the religion department in Siem Reap, told the Post yesterday that eight had recovered after being in critical condition.
“We decided to return them to their family and allow them to leave the monkhood,” he said.
Dr Kros Sarath, director of the health department in Siem Reap, said yesterday that the monks were tired, hungry and overheated.
But he played down the risks faced by the novice monks, saying they were never in any grave danger.
“It is not a big deal,” he said.
To contact the reporter on this story: Khouth Sophak Chakrya at firstname.lastname@example.org