Lok Yeay Mao Pich Nil
Beside the national religion, Buddhism, in the real society of Cambodia, people also worship their indigenous deities, the masters of the land, human heroes who become sacred spirits after they passed away. Throughout the country, there are many big and small shrines were built for those deities. Because people still believe that there are evil spirits which could cause problems in their life. And to worship their deities is for helping them get rid off those evil spirits.
Lok Yeay Mao (Grandma Mao) is on of the great well known deities by Her sacred power of protecting and granting the wishes of her worshipers. It’s believed that Lok Yeay Mao is the deity who control over the area of forest and the seaside. So people who live nearby to forest and seaside is specially worship her. Moreover, many shrines in different places through out Cambodia are built for Lok Yeay Mao, so that people in their area can pay their worship. Despite the sacredness of Lok Yeay Mao, people also want to find out about her history. There are many different sources telling different story about her.
History of Lok Yeay Mao
Mr. Mix Saphon, the deputy of Culture and Fine Art office of Kampong Speu province, has made a research about the history of Lok Yeay Mao and he has filed a conclusion as below.
During the 16th to 17th century, there was always fighting between Khmer and Siamese. According to his research, Lok Yeay Mao was a girl in the military troop, she was an assistant to her leader, Ta Kry (តាគ្រី). Their military troop was well known in the seaside areas, because they were always success over the battles with enemy. Later they control the western of Cambodia and expanded to the east of the sea which is now Kampong Speu province. There were two large military bases of Ta Kry troop in their controlled area. One was in Koh Kong looked over by Ta Kry and another one was in Pich Nil, Kampong Speu, looked over by Lok Yeay Mao.
After Ta Kry passed away, the troop was leaded by Lok Yeay Mao. During that time, Siam knew that Ta Kry had passed away, they had always tried to fight, but almost all the battles were defeated by Khmer troop leaded by Lok Yeay Mao. The research result also shows that, Lok Yeay Mao has never married to anyone.
The Sacredness of Lok Yeay Mao
Over hundreds of year ago, Cambodia people worship Lok Yeay Mao as their master of land, who can protect them from harms, especially people who live near seaside area. However, until today the sacredness of Lok Yeay Mao is still very powerful which we can see people build more shrines for her through out the country. This is to clarify that, the belief of people over her protection is still very strong.
One of the main shrine of Lok Yeay Mao (built in 1990) is located at Pich Nil peak, along the nation road No.4, the Phnom Penh – Sihanouk Ville high way, about 120 Km from Phnom Penh. Eveyone who passing this way are stop by and pay their worship to Lok Yeay Mao for safe trip. People also pray to her for their successful in their job and business.
Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm
Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm are the name of two sacred Gods which has their shrine in the south of Royal Independence Gardens in Siem Reap, in front of the Raffles Grand Hotel’d Angkor.
On the Buddhist holy days and principal Buddhist events of the year, the shrine of Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm is always full with devotees bringing their offerings of flowers and fruits to make praying.
Near the shrine, there are several stores selling lotus flowers and jasmine which are already prepared to be bouquets, especially decorated coconut in which young coconut is nicely prepared and top up with betel leaves, lotus, incense sticks and candles. In Khmer, we call this prepared coconut Slabthor Dong. Live birds are also can be found nearby in cases, as it’s believed that to free birds is a way of releasing bad luck, the birds will take away all the bad things of the prayers while they’re flying into the forest.
Khmer traditional music is also need in praying or as a form of paying gratitude to Gods after their praying become true. So there is a band of traditional Khmer music in the shrine to provide this service.
Inside the shrine, at the center, two statues of standing Buddha are the statue of Preah Ang Chek and Preah Ang Chorm. They are raising one hand with palms face outward in the gesture of Abhaya Mudra, the gesture of reassurance, blessing and protection. Jasmine braiding is worn in the God’s necks and hands by devotees. Preah Ang Chek is taller and Preah Ang Chorm is the shorter one. They are both are female. Incense sticks are holding in hands by devotees while praying inside the shrine, however, there is a big bowl outside to leave incense sticks.
The shrine is built in the style of Khmer house, very beautiful, even it is small. At night, on the roof of the shrine are many light buds decorated, make the shrine brightly emerge in the garden. The shrine is bounded by low fence and at the entrance door have two Dvarapalas.
The locals said that during the Khmer Rouge was invading Siem Reap town, they attempted to remove both Buddha statues to destroy, but the statues became very heavy as they shouldn’t be, that the Khmer Rouge could not move them and ran away with frighten.
Preah Ang Chek Preah Ang Chorm are the protection Buddha of Siem Reap town. They have been well known among the locals with their sacredness. People come to pray for health and happiness, success of business and work. Moreover, newly couples also come here to ask for blessing.
Churning of the ocean of milk is one of the most famous episodes in the Puranas. This is a popular scene mostly see in carvings of almost ancient temples in Cambodia including Angkor Wat temple, Baphuon temple, and even other smaller temple such as Ta Pruhm temple in Tonle Bati, Takeo province, also carved this story on the temple wall. The biggest one is shown in bas relief panel at the East gallery of Angkor Wat temple, a spectacular 70 meters of intricately sculpted.
House Starting Construction Ceremony
The house is the most important place for every family and has a very special function for Khmer society. Therefore, when villagers start to build their house there is thorough attention paid to both technical and material aspects. Various ceremonies are conducted following rules and beliefs which prevail in the ancient ritual texts. Because the villagers believe that to follow those rules and beliefs, people would live in the house with happiness and become prosperous.
Rain lily is known in Khmer as Pror Teal Angkor Chum. It was called Rain Lily because it burst to flower after a rain. For Cambodian, Pror Teal is a generic name of a group of plantations which do not flower all year round, and some are rarely to flower. “Chum” means gather together, collecting, or meeting. It was called Angkor Chum, because people believe that planting this flower in the house would bring relatives and friends together living happily. Continue reading