Ministry calls for changes to Buddha statues

Buddha statues on Phnom Sampov Mountain in Battambang Province were seen earlier this month. FACEBOOK

Battambang Provincial Department of Worship and Religion is seeking permission from sculptors to make alterations to Buddha statues that are under construction on the face of Phnom Sampov mountain after inaccuracies discovered during recent inspection .

Department director Kun Sambath Moniroth said on September 12 that those sponsoring the construction had requested permission to build three statues showing Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and nirvana.

However, he said he had never seen the plan and it was only after a practical test that he realized there was a scriptural error in the statue of enlightenment of Buddha.

“They asked for a statue representing enlightenment, but when it was built it turned out to be a statue of Siddhartha [Buddha] triumphant over Mara, ”he said.

He added that the construction should follow the book “Models of Buddha statues in Cambodia” published on September 1, 2014 by the Ministry of Religions and recognized by the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts.

Building Buddha statues that are markedly different from designs approved by the Ministry of Religions could lead to younger generations to misunderstand religion and could attract criticism from the public, he said.

“First, the younger generations who do not have a deep knowledge of Buddhism will not know the exact style of Buddha portrayed as an image of his enlightenment. Second, the public will criticize the authorities or experts by saying that they are ignorant, ”he said.

A Facebook user named Siv Jing who claimed to be the sculptor’s son said the triumphant Mara Buddha statue was commissioned by two Buddhist devotees identified as Tang Meng Hun and Sreng Sen.

The duo could not be reached for comment.

Siv Jing said that Mara’s status as a triumphant Buddha is meant to be a peacekeeper for the nation and to show that no enemy can persecute Cambodia. In addition, he said he was also a symbolic protector of the health of Cambodian children against plagues like Covid-19.