Saturday, September 15, 2012

Khmer Baby Naming Ceremony

One of the very first outings with the children of the centre I worked for in Phnon Penh was to one of the big temple complexes of the city for the naming ceremony of the baby in residence. This was my first glimpse into the Buddhist traditions, as I observed each of the children carry out their roles and watch as one of the teacher's of the Center lead them through the process.

We all piled into the Center's tuk tuk, cramming in as many bodies as was possible, to make the journey through the crazy traffic from the neighbourhood of the shelter into the more central area of PP. Along with us in this open-air mode of transport were our lunch supplies for the day's outing, with rice and curry in tin stackable carriers.

It was such a privilege to visit a temple like this, and see the monks in action. Particularly the elder who blessed our shelter's baby. Seeing these men in their varying shades of orange and magenta in their homes, with their study and sleeping quarters just meters from the key prayer areas of the temple - such a window into their world.

Considering the threat to such traditions being completing wiped out by the Khmer Rouge, it was lovely to see a new generation being stepped through the rituals and importance of such occasions.

These pictures remind me of so many special times with these girls, and the couple of boys, we had at the shelter whilst I was there. Such characters and hope within these little people, who had each faces such unimaginable things in their lives.

The baby in the center, for whom this outing was all about, was the child of one of the older and longest standing girls in the shelter. She was the same age as I was at the time of my volunteer period over there, and we spent quite a lot of time together.

Some of my role morphed into one of a maternal and child support person for this young mother, and I too spent many hours trying to get this little one off to sleep as his mother completed her chores within the house.

This post is part of a series marking 10 years since I travelled to Cambodia to work as a volunteer.

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