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Photographer's Note

Buddhism has existed in Cambodia since at least the 5th century, with some sources placing its origin as early as the 3rd century. Theravada Buddhism has been the Cambodian state religion since the 13th century (excepting the Khmer Rouge period), and is currently estimated to be the faith of 95% of the population.

The history of Buddhism in Cambodia spans nearly two thousand years, across a number of successive kingdoms and empires. Buddhism entered Cambodia through two different streams. The earliest forms of Buddhism, along with Hindu influences, entered the Funan kingdom with Hindu merchants. In later history, a second stream of Buddhism entered Khmer culture during the Angkor empire when Cambodia absorbed the various Buddhist traditions of the Mon kingdoms of Dvaravati and Haripunchai.

For the first thousand years of Khmer history, Cambodia was ruled by a series of Hindu kings with an occasional Buddhist king, such as Jayavarman of Funan, and Suryvarman I. A variety of Buddhist traditions co-existed peacefully throughout Cambodian lands, under the tolerant auspices of Hindu kings and the neighboring Mon-Theravada kingdoms.

Judging from his appearance as an Asian, this Cambodian Buddhist monk must be in his 80s. But he is certainly not weak, still moved around on a Sunday afternoon enjoying interaction with the public, especially the children. He has survived all these years on vegetarian diet and most probably does not have health problem like high cholestrol, diabetic and so on associated the meat eating diet.

At this good old age, his apparent frail eyes have seen the good and bad times since the Colonial years, through the years of Civil wars, the infamous Pol Pot era and later the war with Vietnam. Many Cambodians fled the country, others died of starvation, torture and war.

This monk survived to remember.

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Additional Photos by Alfred tdl (alftrek) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 320 W: 53 N: 846] (3270)
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