Cremation of the King

Cremation of former Cambodian King Norodom SihanoukIn February, by coincidence, I was in Phnom Penh during the ceremonies surrounding the cremation of former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk. I had never been to this vibrant city with a tragic past before so I was just wandering the esplanade along the Mekong River and soaking up the atmosphere. Everything around the Royal Palace was blocked off so naturally I had to find out what was going on. Security was obviously very high but I was allowed to walk behind the barricades.

What I found was an amazing spectacle. People were praying and openly weeping. The air was filled with the aroma of incense and the perfume of flowers. Many people carried photographs of the man known to many simply as “father”. His reign was as controversial as the history of Southeast Asia.  It was funeral and festival; mourning and celebration. Respect for history and a break with the past. Even small children, too young to understand what was happening, could obviously feel the importance of what was going on. Just being welcomed into and able to witness such a historical event was moving.

Cremation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

The Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Cremation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

Celebrants Light Incense and Candles

Cremation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

There was so much incense burning that little fires formed below the holders.

Cremation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

The “Father” and Some of His Children

Cremation of Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk

Even Small Children Seem to Have a Sense of History

 

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Author: Jonathan Look

In 2011 Jonathan Look decided to change his life and pursue adventures instead of comfort and possessions. His goal is to travel the world solo; one country at a time, one year at a time. To accomplish this he got rid of most of his possessions, packed up what little he saw as necessities and headed out. His goal is to spend ten years discovering new places, meeting new people and taking the time to learn about them, their values and their place on this tiny planet. He embraces the philosophy that says a person is the sum of their experiences and rejects the fraud of modern consumerism that makes people into slaves of their consumption. He doesn’t intend to be modern day ascetic, just more mindful of his place in the world and to make decisions according to that new standard.

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