Cambodian monks told to behave during festival

Cambodia's monks have been warned not to mingle with the crowds at a major water festival this year, with any caught looking at girls in short skirts facing a reprimand.

Cambodian monks told to behave during festival

Cambodian monks told to behave during festival

More than two million visitors are expected to flock to the capital for the three-day festival from November 20-22 to enjoy boat races on the Tonle Sap lake, fireworks and parades.

But for the city's monks, this year's event will be a muted affair in light of the new restrictions.

"As we are monks, it is not good to walk among the crowd because we could touch other people," Phnom Penh's chief monk Non Ngeth told AFP.

Buddhist monks are highly revered in Cambodia, and they are not supposed to touch, or even look at, women.

It would "not be suitable" for monks to be seen mingling with festivalgoers along the riverfront, Non Ngeth added, especially with high-ranking officials looking on.

And if any of the monks dared to sneak a peek at girls wearing short skirts or shorts, "they will be corrected", he said.

But the monks won't have to miss out on the festivities altogether.

They will still be allowed to perform ceremonies blessing the wooden boats taking part in the races, Non Ngeth said.

The annual festival, one of Cambodia's largest, marks the reversal of the flow between the Tonle Sap and the Mekong river.


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