The Kingdom on May 15 observed Visak Bochea Day on Phnom Oudong hill, also known as Phnom Preah Reach Troap, in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district to commemorate Gautama Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and passage into nirvana.

Situated at the site of the ancient capital city of Oudong, Phnom Preah Reach Troap is where relics of the Buddha are kept.

The ceremony was attended by First Lady Bun Rany Hun Sen, who is also president of the Cambodian Red Cross, Senate president Say Chhum, members of the National Assembly and other government officials.

Prime Minister Hun Sen also took to social media to commemorate the event.

“Today – not only in Cambodia, but all over the world – Buddhists are celebrating this important religious festival,” he said, adding that Visak Bochea is one of the most important religious festivals in the world as it honours the three most important events in the life of the Buddha.

Venerable Kou Sopheap, a prominent monk residing at Kol Tor Teng pagoda, advised all Buddhists to do good deeds and to never hold grudges or resentments against others.

Battambang provincial governor Sok Lou said that this year he undertook great efforts and expense celebrating Visak Bochea at Wat Por pagoda in Battambang town in collaboration with the monks, with many banners bearing images of the Buddha erected along streets across the whole province and large crowds in attendance at pagodas.

Battambang authorities celebrate Visak Bochea Day on May 15. BATTAMBANG PROVINCIAL ADMINISTRATION

Lou also took the occasion to urge the people to follow the road traffic laws, clean up the environment and stay away from drugs.

“I call on all monks at all pagodas to please help instruct the people about the drug problem. Today it is very widespread in our society. Please help by preaching anti-drug sermons. Please help spread the word to everyone to stay away from drugs. Please brand drugs as our enemy,” he emphasised.

Visak Bochea is a major festival in Buddhism that Cambodia has officially designated a national holiday. Nearly 200 UN member countries adopted a resolution that recognised it as an international religious holiday in 1999.