Thursday, August 27, 2009

A Visit to Wat Toul Tom Pong

Cambodia is predominantly Buddhist. Throughout Cambodia -- in every city and small village -- exists a "Wat". A Wat is religious hub and serves many purposes within Cambodian culture. In Western parlance, a Wat is roughly a Buddhist church. Well... somewhat. The only similarity between a church and a Wat is that it houses religion. Beyond that, a Wat lives, breaths and behaves like no church.
To begin with, a Wat is not only a place for worship, but sparse but clean communal accommodations for Monks and others.
A Cambodian in sudden dire straights, at any hour, can always find counsel, food and lodging for a day or two at a Wat, seldom longer, unless one provides valued services Monks need in exchange for bed and food, without pay.
What I really like about religion here is you don't need to go to Wat on Sunday. Instead, Monks make house calls... everyday. You make a donation of food or funds, receive a prayer. 45: seconds later you are blessed and good to go for the day.

Monks returning to the Wat from a morning of gathering resources and delivering prayers.

Some Wats are hundreds of years-old and no longer viable and need to be replaced. Quality old growth timbers of old Wats are carved into life size human interpretations to be sold or introduced to a new Wat.

When I die, I want to be cremated. As a developer, being buried seems like a bad use of real estate space to me. These are chambers where bodies are burned. Sad, but a fact of life.

How are these for stairs?

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