Khmer Religion

Khmer Religion :

Most Cambodians are Theravada Buddhist. Theravada Buddhism is one of the two main Buddhist sects and is practiced also in Thailand and Laos. Khmer Buddhists believe in karma and reincarnation—that is, they believe that today’s actions will affect their lives in the future, either in this or future lives. The Buddhist religion allows Cambodians a way to gain merit so they may be reborn to a better life. They gain merit by good acts and religious deeds that include acting properly, celebrating holy days, and taking food to the monks at the temple.

Most Cambodians also believe in spirits who must be fed, made happy, and informed of family events. Thus, every wedding includes a ceremony to notify family spirits that a new member is joining the family.

Spirit Houses :

Many visitors to Cambodia are left puzzled by the presence of spirit houses. These small shrines are seen throughout the country , and look like tiny temple mounted on pillars . They are used by both Buddhist and animist minorities in order to show respect to the recent departed .Buddhist believe that leaving offerings at the spirit houses wish luck in the next life for the recently deceased , who are awaiting reincarnation in t5he underworld .In doing so , they also believe that they are giving themselves good luck .As such, it is not uncommon to see spirit houses at businesses and homes throughout Southeast Asia .

The ethnic minority followers of animism in the more remote parts of Cambodia also believe in the use of spirit houses .However, the spirit houses play a much more significant role in their lives .According to animist traditions, the recently departed must exist as spirit in the forest until they are reincarnated .They take great care in not offending the spirit , as they believe that unfortunate events such as disease are caused by angered spirit . Thus they leave offerings at the spirit houses in hopes of remedying illness , often in lieu of seeking medical treatment .