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