September 19, 2023
PHNOM PENH – To celebrate the inscription of the Koh Ker archaeological site on UNESCO’s World Heritage List, the Ministry of Cults and Religion has appealed to pagodas and places of worship to celebrate the achievement by ringing bells, shaking rattles and banging gongs on September 20.
Venerable Om Lim Heng, chief monk of the Buddhist Mohanikaya sect, also issued a notice to all pagodas, instructing them to mark the historic accomplishment.
“We call on chief monks and deputies to get ready to celebrate the occasion by ringing bells and banging gongs at all pagodas, meditation centres and parish halls across the country at 7am on September 20,” read the notice.
In his message celebrating the inscription while on his China visit, Prime Minister Hun Manet referred to the day, September 17, as “another source of national pride on the international stage”.
Religion minister Chay Borin also issued a notice advising all religion departments and every religious school throughout the country to cooperate closely with chief monks, abbots and spiritual leaders to hit bells, drums and shake wooden rattles in celebration of the inscription.
Former Prime Minister Hun Sen, who remains president of the ruling Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), shared his gratitude to the UNESCO World Heritage Committee for adding the temple complex to the World Heritage List.
“I also thank the government and each relevant ministry and institution for the work leading to such an excellent result for the nation,” he said in a September 17 social media post.
He noted that the temple complex was the former capital of the Khmer Empire during the reign of Jayavarman IV in the 900s, from 928AD until 941AD.
The CPP also issued a statement in celebration of the temple complex’s admission.
“We express our deep admiration and thanks to the government of the sixth and seventh mandates as well as all relevant ministries and institutions in the reign of King Norodom Sihamoni and Queen Mother [Norodom Monineath Sihanouk] for working tirelessly since 2018 to prepare application forms and achieve this excellent result,” it said.
Chhort Bunthang, a Cultural Relations, Tourism and Education researcher at the Royal Academy of Cambodia, echoed the sentiment, saying this success is a new source of pride for Cambodia.
“Every Cambodian should mark this occasion. Whether through beating drums, social media publicity or the attention of the domestic and international media, this should inspire people to realise what a wonderful and important thing the government has done for the nation,” he told The Post on September 18.
He believes that both the government and the public should all participate in the care, protection and promotion of the temple complex because celebrating on September 20 but failing to protect it in the future would be terrible.
Banteay Meanchey provincial governor Um Reatrey also called the listing another source of pride for Cambodia and her people.
“In celebration of this historic event, the provincial administration has advised public and private institutions, pagodas and schools – and the general public – across the province to make as much noise as they can at 7am on September 20,” he said.
The UNESCO World Heritage Committee in Cambodia also conveyed a congratulatory message marking the occasion. “Congratulations to Cambodia’s new achievement: Koh Ker temple was inscribed on UNESCO’s World Heritage List on 17 September, 2023.”