Sunday, April 26, 2009

A place of sorrow... the "Killing Fields"

While visiting Angkor Watt in Cambodia in 2006, I came across a couple of memorials to the Cambodian residents of Siem Reap who had been so brutally tortured and killed during the reign of the Khamer Rouge. A very deep sorrow hung in the air around each of the two memorials I visited. Haunting places .... that leaves one asking the question...."Why?"

Rows and rows of walls made up the "Killing Fields" Memorial Park .....

Each wall, made up of hundreds of individual plaques .... each plaque with a person's name who died under the Khamer rule.

A glassed monument in front of a Buddhist temple in Siam Reap, Cambodia .... holds the bones of some of the Cambodians who died under the Khamer rule.

Each one a life. Killed for what?

Sacred Fish in Mali

"Ask the fish a question, then toss food into the pond. If they eat the food, the answer is yes. If they do not, the answer is no."

"Do not touch the sacred fish! If you touch them .... you will die!"

As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Sikasso, southern Mali, I visited these sacred fish one day. It was the dry season, so the river that normally ran through the pond had dried up. I was told, a huge cavern existed below the pond, so that if the water did dry up, the fish would escape down into the cavern.

The sacred fish were huge "cat fish." I'd guess maybe between 25 and 40 pounds each .... and maybe 20 to 30 lived in the pond. During the rainy season, when water gushed through this pond, why didn't the fish leave?

That was 40 years ago! Now I wonder.... did I toss food into the pond? And if I did, was it eaten? Another question in the mystery of life!

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Thai Funeral and Cremation Rites

Buddhist monks chant at the home of the deceased whose body lay in a wooden casket, inside a special silver and black refrigerated unit.

Monks chanting and the passing of the string while daughter of the deceased makes special offering in honor of her father.

Removing the casket from the refrigerated unit on the hearse and carrying the casket to the crematorium.

Taking the top of the casket allowing for ceremonies that follow.

Monks pour coconut water over the body in an act of symbolically washing the corps.

The family of the deceased symbolically wash and bless their father's corps.

Monks lay a small bundle containing a stick of incense, a candle and matches, on the wooden casket, therein symbolically lighting the cremation fire.

For the final ceremony involving the scattering of the ashes, go to my July 2206 blog at: