Today marks the five-year anniversary of the inscription of Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet on UNESCO’s List of Intangible Cultural Heritage in Need of Urgent Safeguarding.

The traditional form of masked theatre was added to the list on November 28, 2018.

“Congratulations for the 5th anniversary of the listing of Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage,” said former Prime Minister Hun Sen, head of Supreme Privy Council to the King, via his social media.

“Protecting our cultural heritage is the duty of all Cambodians,” he added.

Prime Minister Hun Manet also recognised the significance of the anniversary via his own social media.

The Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts also celebrated the event by posting the meaning behind the Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet performance of Reamker.

The Lkhon is practised in a community near Wat Svay Andet – located 10km east of Phnom Penh. It is performed by men wearing masks to the accompaniment of a traditional orchestra and melodious recitation.

Lkhon Khol Wat Svay Andet performance in recent past. UNESCO

According to UNESCO, Lkhon Khol is performed for ritual purposes, mostly linked to the cycle of rice farming and the needs of farming communities.

“The specific aim is to propitiate the Neak Ta (guardian spirits of a place and its people), thereby protecting and bringing prosperity to the community, its lands and harvest,” said UNESCO.