On the sidewalks outside stores and schools, in front of homes and in private settings, Cambodians of Chinese extraction paid tribute to their ancestors Thursday on the eve of the Chinese New Year.
Fires burned in small containers, and the pretty unpleasant odor of paper being consumed was inescapable in Phnom Penh. To ensure that their dead parents, grandparents and all those who came before have wealth in the afterlife, they prayed and dropped wads of fake cash into the flames.
It is a touching ceremony that speaks to a strong Buddhist tradition here and a Chinese heritage that a friend estimates at 70 percent of the population, though I have no confidence in that number and am certain it varies from the cities to the farms.
To me, the difference is striking Continue reading