Cambodian village shuns ‘cursed’ land

Cambodian village shuns ‘cursed’ land


Almost two acres of land in south eastern Cambodia, which has not been farmed due to a superstition that leads the villagers to believe the it is cursed. Photograph:  supplied

Prey Veng province in south eastern Cambodia has an expanse stretching one and a half hectares and is deserted. No animals are grazed and no harvests are reaped. No villager will step foot on the grass.

In a country where so much land is the subject of dispute, a superstition dating back hundreds of years means local people in Ram Check village in Prey Chhar commune have left more than two acres untouched. They believe any man or animal who treads on it will be struck by lightning.

Sek Kheang, the chief of Prey Chhar commune, said that the legend stems from an historical family conflict several hundred years ago over ownership over the land.

According to the legend, two siblings fought over ancestral rights to the land. The older sister, Mummy Chhe, argued with her younger brother, whose name is not known.

They took the argument to court but were unsatisfied with the outcome of the trial and, to resolve the dispute swore before Nak Ta, the spirit that tradition holds has power over the land.

As punishment for their greed, the spirit cursed them and sent them both mad.

Villagers have blamed frequent lightning strikes in the area on the ancient dispute, saying that the spirit is alive and the land has been left unused.

Local man Kheang said he was not sure if the story was true, but that it had been passed down the generations since before he was born.

He said that even when the Khmer Rouge brought in tractors, they had to turn back and the land was deserted due to frequent lightning strikes.

He said: “When the tractors were forced to deforest the land in order to farm, all the tractors had flat tyres due to lightening strikes.”

He added that in 2002 a foreign construction company was introduced in the area to dig up the soil and build the National Road Number 1, the route which connects Phnom Penh to Vietnam.

The job, he says, was abandoned when the company heard about the superstition and abandoned the village.

Sam Nang, a villager living nearby, said he believed that any animal that set foot on the land would also be struck by lightning.

“I knew from hearing about the past that lightning would strike many animals to death when they entered there too.”

To contact the reporter on this story: Sou Vuthy at [email protected]


  • Ministers to tackle sea pollutants

    Preah Sihanouk provincial authorities and members of local communities have collected 77 tonnes of water hyacinth at a Sihanoukville beach, Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesperson Or Saroeun said. He told The Post yesterday that the aquatic weeds had been floating along some of the province’s

  • EU timber deal in firing line

    A committee of more than 20 national and international organisations filed a petition to the EU on October 10 to prevent it from signing a timber trade agreement with Vietnam, noting that the deal would be disastrous to the Kingdom’s forests. The petition claims Vietnamese timber

  • PM: Programme to recover Vietnam War missing back on

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced the resumption of the MIA programme to recover the remains of American service personnel missing after action on Cambodian soil during the Vietnam War. The programme was suspended for more than a year after the US government imposed visa

  • Kim Sok to keep up fight ‘for change’ from Finland

    Kim Sok, wanted by the Kingdom’s authorities for defaming the government, reiterated on Sunday his determination to continue helping to make “a real change” to Cambodian politics after receiving asylum in Finland, even as a government spokesman mocked the political analyst over the development.