Religion plays an important role for all races. Cambodians are strong believers in religion, with most people believing in Buddhism and regarding it as a religion of state.
The pagoda is a sacred place for people who believe in superstitions to go and pray in order to get blessings. Moreover, they bring some food to the pagoda to pray for their ancestors or their relatives who have died.
Monks are a representative of Buddhism due to the fact that monks are people who leave all of their belongings and also emotions, love and family for their religion. In the past, monks have had to stick with the rules of the monks.
Recently, we learned that some monks do not comply with these rules.
Most people think that the way that monks provide them with blessings is sacred. However, in one case experienced by a LIFT reporter, a monk asked people to pay more money in order to be beautiful like the celebrity Ampor Tevy.
That is not an appropriate blessing to give, because people falsely believe that these paid-for blessings can bring them good luck and personal achievements.
According to 19-year-old Buddhist Aun Kanha, “I used to go there several times with my friends to get blessings. I have had a similar experience. For the first time, I thought that the monk was just kidding us, but I went again, and he kept saying [the inappropriate blessing]. So, I think that it is nonsense that I go and get [this] prayer.”
Pok Vanthy, the Priest Representative of the Ministry of Cult and Religion, said even he used to experience hearing monks bless people to receive a visa and go abroad. However, this is considered as wrong by the precepts of the monkhood.
“It’s because a certain monk wants to be more famous and popular, but it’s wrong,” he said.
He compares the wrongdoing of monks to the people who sometimes break the traffic laws.
“The ministry of Cult and Religion has their way of educating and making monks obey policies, but there are still some monks practicing the wrong way.”
Adding inappropriate words for a blessing is not the only bad habit for monks in Cambodia. Another example is the way some monks join in certain activities that involve a lot of people on the street.
This can be considered inappropriate as the place contains a lot of people; it’s rare that monks can travel through these places without being physically touched.
Keo Sophavy, a 42-year-old vegetable vendor, says she is dissatisfied with how some monks break the rules.
“In the past, monks strictly complied with their rules, but now it is different from before. I think that monks should not walk in the market because it is too crowded and chaotic. In addition, it is the place where vendors kill fish and chicken as well. It is not the right place for monks to pass by.”
Responding to this comment, Mr. Vanthy said it’s not wrong for monks to walk in the market, but it is considered okay only if the place is wide enough for monks to avoid touching other people.
Meas Sokunthea, a 51-year-old Buddhist, says that “I always go to the pagoda on holy days and some special occasions. Honestly, some monks are spoiling the reputation of others by their own activity”.
She added that not all of the monks are bad, just some of them.
"I hope that the senior monks will enforce discipline to make sure that religion is trustworthy and respectable.”