Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Villagers pray to coconut tree

Villagers pray to coconut tree

Villagers pray to coconut tree


Villagers worship a coconut tree, which they believe to be magic, in Banteay Meanchey province. Photograph: supplied

Over the past week, hundreds of villagers in Banteay Meanchey’s Thmor Pouk district have made the trek to a tiny yard in Banteay Chhmar commune to worship a coconut tree they believe possesses a magic healing spirit.

The owner of the bizarre 18-trunked coconut palm, Sar Yuk, 75, said he had no idea the three-year-old tree possessed special powers until a fortune-teller insisted the unusual garden feature was the key to healing a long-standing leg injury.

“The fortune-teller told me to offer sacrificial objects [fruit, food, incense and money] to the coconut tree to receive its healing powers,” said Yuk, who has spent the past three years forced to walk with a stick or shuffle across the ground on his buttocks.

Yuk said he listened to the fortune-teller and, after a day of preparing small sacrifices and praying, he was able to walk completely unaided.

“I can walk and eat a lot [now]. That is the difference since I prayed to the coconut tree,” Yuk said.

“There are a lot of people from near my village and some from other provinces who have now come to ask the coconut tree to cure their diseases,” Yuk said, adding that monks had performed a blessing ceremony on the site and villagers were making sacrificial offerings to him and the tree.

Fortune-teller Sam Nath said that on meeting Yuk, he immediately knew a healing spirit was close by.

“The more special the spirit, the more tree trunks will appear,” Nath said in reference to the coconut tree’s 18 trunks.

“I don’t want the people to just believe me, but they can come to see by themselves,” he said.

Commune chief Vain Sam Oun said yesterday he had heard about the tree, and although he did not believe it was a scam, he would not encourage villagers to trust the tree.

“[But] It is their right to believe in the spirit, and I do not prohibit them from doing that,” Sam Oun said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Mom Kunthear at [email protected]


  • Proof giants walked among us humans?

    For years a debate has waged about whether certain bas relief carvings at the 12th-century To Prohm Temple, one of the most popular attractions at the Angkor Wat Temple Complex in Siem Reap province, depicted dinosaurs or some rather less exotic and more contemporary animal,

  • New US bill ‘is a violation of Cambodian independence’

    After a US congressmen introduced bipartisan legislation that will enact sanctions on Cambodian officials responsible for “undermining democracy” in the Kingdom, government officials and the ruling Cambodian People’s Party on Sunday said they regarded the potential action as the “violation of independence and sovereignty

  • Long way to go before Cambodia gets a ‘smart city’

    Phnom Penh, Siem Reap and Battambang will struggle to attain smart city status without adopting far reaching master plans, according to officials tasked with implementing the program. The brainchild of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), the smart city program seeks to link up

  • Japan bank buys major stake in ANZ Royal Bank

    Japan's largest bank acquired more than half of ANZ’s shares in Cambodia on Thursday, according to a statement from Kith Meng’s Royal Group. Japan's JTrust Bank, announced that they had acquired a 55% of stake in ANZ Royal Bank. According to a Royal Group