The Meak Bochea Day celebration will be monitored strictly this year with the number of attending monks limited to only 80, according to deputy National Police chief Yim Leang
Leang said the restriction is part of Covid-19 guidelines on gatherings.
“Meak Bochea will be celebrated at Phnom Preah Reach-Trop, better known as Phnom Oudong, in Kandal province’s Ponhea Leu district this year. It will not be the same as in previous years because of Covid-19. Security forces will stand guard [during] the celebration despite attendees being limited,” he said.
He added that a joint force will be deployed to safeguard security and order for local and international visitors, as well as Buddhist followers from Phnom Penh to provinces along the borders.
“Despite the limited number of Meak Bochea attendees this year, I would like all relevant units to pay more attention to figures, leaders and diplomats who will be attending this service,” he said.
Minister of Cults and Religions Chhit Sokhon instructed all municipal and provincial departments to assign pagodas to organise Meak Bochea service by following national traditions.
“[We] have to choose pagodas to hold the Meak Bochea ceremony formally by following the government’s guidelines, Ministry of Health’s measures and the prime minister’s recommendations,” he said.
Sokhon instructed religion department directors to work responsibly with provincial chief monks and local authorities at all levels to carry out the measures in a highly effective manner.
Meak Bochea Day, also known internationally as Magha Puja or Lord Buddha Day, is an important Buddhist festival celebrated on the full moon in the third month of the traditional Khmer calendar, which generally lands it in February or March. It is an occasion when Buddha prophesied his death and where Buddhist followers remember Buddha and his teachings.