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The business of unseen things

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Chhorn Ean, 47, a businessman from Takeo province, attributes his financial luck to keeping the spirits happy. Here a M’neang P’tas shrine can be seen in his house. Dit Sokthy

The business of unseen things

Chhorn Ean, 47, is a tall, dark man who speaks slowly in a smoky voice matching his dark Khmer-style, wooden house that is furnished with luxurious hardwood and sculptures. Sitting in his living room, Ean reflects on the secret of his success in the past ten years to Post Property. According to Ean, besides hard work, there are “unseen things” helping his success.

“I believe there are unseen things. Usually, I realise unseen things follow to help me when I do something. It’s up to the people to believe it or not but I worship the spirit world,” Ean explained.

The father of two sons and one daughter who makes his money as owner of a bakery chain and a fish processing factory said his business success shows his long-standing favour with the spirits.

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Chhorn Ean discusses how to keep the spirits happy from his home in Takeo. Dit Sokthy

All of his houses and shops, Ean said, have been built in the traditional Khmer style, consuming a lot of money for construction materials and costly worship practices on each Buddhist holiday. “I pay around $200 for worshipping equipment each holiday,” he said.

But Ean doesn’t only worship Buddha. “When shrines are well organised, we believe unseen things help us to have success. It costs hundreds of thousands of dollars in construction materials and preparation,” he said and showed Post Property around his house and garden in Takeo province to explain his anchors to the spirit world he attributes his success to.

Calling upon the blessing of deceased children
A miniature house made of bamboo is hung in front of a house. It is devoted to ghosts or spirits of children that have no relatives paying worship to them. They can play in and around the house but also warn the house owner of jealous business rivals, sometimes in dreams.

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This M’neang P’tas shrine cost Chhorn Ean $3,000. DIT SOKTHY Dit Sokthy

Preah Phum
Close to the fence of his property, facing the house, Kea said he shelters a Preah Phum, a god that protects the village. A Preah Phum shrine can be made of wood or cement, depending on how rich one is.

M’neang P’tas
“This is a $3,000 shrine devoted to M’neang P’tas, a female deity believed to protect the house.”

A M’neang P’tas shrine is generally seen in the middle of a house and is supposed to be a small size copy of the house it stands in.

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Incense and lotus flowers accompany this Preah Phum shrine. Dit Sokthy

“I also have another shrine devoted to ancestors who passed away,” Ean said.

In Khmer culture, the soul is believed to live after the body dies and looks after those who pay worship to them.

The shrine is placed on the wall and oriented to a specific direction which is believed to bring happiness.

Yorn (Protection)
A piece of red cloth with Bali scripts is always attached to the roof of a house. This cloth is called Yorn which means protection. It is attached to the roof of a house when it is initially built. It is believed that it can protect a house from fire.

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Chhorn Ean prays at a Preah Phum shrine in his garden. Dit Sokthy

Animal guardians
A statue of animals is believed to protect a house too. Placing a statute of a lion, a naga, or an elephant in front of a building is an ancient tradition in Cambodia.

It’s easy to find a statue of animals in front of ancient temples across the country. Besides animals, a statue of a guardian is also placed at the gate of a house or building.


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