The Battambang Provincial Administration has posted images of Buddha on billboards found along its town’s streets – replacing the advertisements that are usually on them – to remind people to attend celebrations of Visak Bochea Day on May 15.
Provincial governor Sok Lou told The Post on May 11 that the reasons he put up Buddha billboards are that Visak Bochea is a major national and international holiday for Buddhists and to remind people that it was forthcoming.
“Because Visak Bochea is a big festival for Buddhism that celebrates his birth, enlightenment and death, the team got together and put these signs up to remind people of the date for the holiday,” he said.
The governor did not say how many billboards of the Buddha were on display because the work had not yet been completed. However, he said they were placed in the areas of Lok Ta Dambang Kranhong shrine, along the main roads and banks of the Sangke River, around Battambang Central Market, better known as Phsar Nat, and some other places in town.
The billboards with the images of Buddha were placed on lamp posts in the town on May 9 and are scheduled to be removed on May 19 after the holiday as the poles belong to a private company that agreed to replace the ads with Buddha images for a short time.
Lou said that on Visak Bochea Day, the provincial administration will hold a procession at Wat Po pagoda and along the banks of the Sangke River.
“We do this to make people understand Buddhism and to increase participation and let Buddhist followers know they can enjoy the festival,” he said.
Seng Somony, a spokesman for the Ministry of Cults and Religions, applauded the efforts.
“Visak Bochea is a national festival that the government has declared a holiday and it is one that is also recognised by the UN and celebrated internationally because the spirit of Buddhism is the spirit of peace for humanity,” he said.
He said that for Visak Bochea Day this year, all authorities and national institutions seem like they are well prepared, and he anticipates that the day will be a success and perhaps the biggest Visak Bochea celebrations that Cambodia has seen to date.
“The national and international commissions and other state institutions are preparing at the national level. At the religions ministry, we have advised all monks to organise festival celebrations with ceremonies and activities and to decorate all of the pagodas,” he said.
Visak Bochea, the day of the full moon in the month of May, is the most sacred day to Buddhists around the world and is recognised as a national holiday in Cambodia.
Nearly 200 member countries of the UN adopted and recognised Visak Bochea as an international holiday in 1999. Celebrations of Visak Bochea are to commemorate three special events related to Buddha’s life: His birth, enlightenment and passage into Nirvana .