A short yet informative guide about religions in Cambodia turns to be very helpful to almost any tourist worldwide. With a good head about the Cambodian religions, you can travel to this secretive destination and its famous temples in the most interesting manner.
The Religions In Cambodia – What You Should Always Know
About 95% of the Cambodia’s population is reported to follow the Theravada Buddhism. Besides, they are predominantly influenced by Shaivism, Vaishnavism, and animism. Meanwhile, the practice of Islam and Christianity can be widely found across the country. At the heart of the religious life, there find many wats (Buddhist monastery) that coexist with the national indigenous belief in the important roles of the ancestors and spirits. And if you ask us to list out the religions in Cambodia, our answer should always include the titles of Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, Tribal religions, and Judaism.
Please note that Cambodia has adopted the Indian religions! While the Hinduism was initially predominant, Theravada Buddhism is since the 14th century. Later, the Muslim, tribal religions and Christianity came. In the past, the Khmer had approved the two influential religions from Indian namely Hinduism and Buddhism. At the ancient time, Hinduism was more popular and held the essential roles in the Khmer civilization. The Angkor monarchs agreed on the notion of “god-king”, by which the king was honored as an incarnation of the god Shiva (the protector – a supreme Hindu deity).
The Practices of Cambodian Religions
The temples in Angkor era were dedicated to god Shiva or god Vishnu. The Hinduism temples were taken as the sacred house of the supreme gods, so they were constructed with the everlasting stones and fine arts. The extraordinary sculptures of the craftsmanship were also enshrined.
Next, the Khmer practiced the Mahayana Buddhism, but now this religion was less eminent. The coexistence of the two religions in Khmer civilization enhanced the unity of the kingdom. Many giant temples were built up to treasure the development of the two religions.
Until the 13th century, the Cambodians got to know the Theravada Buddhism which was introduced from Sri Lanka. From then, this religion became more prominent both in the royal court and in the local contexts. The teaching of Theravada Buddhism straightforwardly broke the predominant belief of the Khmer people. It taught people to find self-enlightenment and disregarded the worldly things. As a result, the teaching changed the locals’ attitude towards the Hindu gods. They turned to appreciate the simple way of living.
Influenced by the Theravada Buddhism teaching, the Cambodians see the universe as a cycle of the eternal change. Depending on your actions in the previous life, your spirits will be punished or rewarded after the physical death. A person will be continuously reborn in either human or non-human form.
Together with Hinduism and Buddhism, the Khmer people also valued their indigenous faith in the local deities, ancestral spirits, and evil spirits as well. The modern Cambodia features this common practice in almost any home and remote village. Such beliefs were passed on from generation to generation through the oral teaching. The words of mouth are powerful enough to last long in the minds of the later generations.