Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Baby boy 'remarries' twin sister in Kandal

Baby boy 'remarries' twin sister in Kandal

Baby boy 'remarries' twin sister in Kandal

Baby.jpg
Baby.jpg

About 100 guests attended the marriage celebration between 36-day-old Ry Sok Sambo (right) and his twin sister Sambath. Susperstition holds that boy-girl twins are reincarnated lovers from a previous life. To ensure their health and happiness, these twins are offen "remarried" at an early age. "The ceremony is for wishing that my son and daughter live happily," said Pen Saran, father of the bride and groom .

Sambath and Sambo were the youngest bride and groom the village of Veal Sbov had

seen for a long time.

In fact, they were just 36 days old when the parents of the twin brother and sister

held a small wedding ceremony, in accordance with an ancient superstition.

Like many Cambodians, the parents of Sambath and Sambo believe that a boy and girl

born together were married in a past life and loved each other so deeply that they

were reincarnated at the same time.

"The ceremony is for wishing that my son and daughter live happily," said

Pen Saran, father of the twins.

About 100 guests attended the August 12 ceremony in Kien Svay district, Kandal province,

which had all the trappings of a regular Khmer wedding.

The baby wedding, however, is not legally binding and the twins' family recognizes

that they are now brother and sister, not husband and wife. The union is seen as

offering protection to the twins, who are considered at a greater risk of infant

mortality than single babies.

As he gently rocked one of his babies in a hammock, 25-year-old Saran says his twins

are the first children he has had with his wife Khim Sreya, 22, whom he married in

2003.

Last year, Sreya had a premonition that a special twist of fate was on its way.

"One night before I became pregnant, I dreamed of picking up diamond rings and

a necklace," said Sreya. "When I woke up, I thought, 'Good luck will come

to me soon.'"

When an ultrasound at six months revealed she was carrying twins, Sreya was initially

concerned.

"My health was not so good and I was afraid of giving birth for the first time,"

she said.

But a doctor explained the advantages of having her babies in hospital to reduce

the dangers, especially because she suffered from high blood pressure. Three months

later, Sreya delivered her twins by caesarian.

Sreya's father Pen Khim, 60, said the neighbors were surprised to hear that his daughter

had twins because no twins had been born in the village since he was young.

The babies require constant care and both parents stay home to look after the healthy

twins. Sreya struggles to keep up with the double demand for breast milk four times

a day, so powdered milk formula is used to supplement the babies' diet.

Miech Ponn, an official at the Buddhist Institute, said the superstition that led

to the baby twins getting married is widely known.

"It has been a Khmer tradition for a very long time," said Ponn, guessing

that 70 percent of Cambodian people still believe that twins were married in a previous

life.

Parents organize a small wedding party for twins in the hope that when they grow

up and get married to their real partner, they will love their husband or wife as

much as in the previous life, Ponn said.

However, Dr. Chak Chenda, a clinic physician at Reproductive Health Association of

Cambodia, described the reincarnated lovers theory as merely a superstition and offered

a more scientific explanation.

Twins are the result of two of the woman's ovules meeting two of the man's sperm

at the same time, said Chenda, adding that sometimes these two babies are the same

gender, sometimes different.

She warned that giving birth to twins or multiple babies can be more dangerous than

single births and advised women to get regular checkups during their pregnancy, deliver

their children in a hospital or clinic, and follow through with postnatal medical

care.

Of course, as most readers are aware, there are two kinds of twins: fraternal and

identical. Fraternal twins occur when two of the mother's eggs are fertilized at

the same time; identical twins occur when one fertilized egg splits and the resulting

children contain exactly the same DNA.

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