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Cambodian snake wedding spells prosperity for villagers

by Tom Armstrong

Earlier this month villagers in Cambodia’s central Kandal province celebrated the wedding of two pythons in an unusual ceremony that saw large female python Chamroeun married to her smaller mate, male python Ar Krong Pich. The nuptials were conducted in Svay Ralum commune, Sa’ang district and were witnessed by hundreds of villagers who had flocked to attend the wedding. It is believed that the wedding of the pythons will bring prosperity and ward-off bad luck for the villagers: Neth Vy, Chamroeun’s owner, told the attending press that the idea had initially been suggested by a person living in the area believed to be ‘possessed’, but that the idea had caught on among local people and it was agreed that the pythons should be betrothed. However, following their marriage the pythons will not be living together and will instead remain with their respective owners.

Animism, the belief that spirits can inhabit animals, plants, or even geographic features like rivers and mountains, is fairly common in Cambodia where it was practiced indigenously before the arrival of Buddhism from South Asia, and later fused with Buddhist beliefs. Animism is still practiced by many of Cambodia’s hill tribes, particularly the Khmer Loeu in the isolated and ethnically diverse province of Ratanakiri. While a visit to Ratanakiri provides those holidaying in Cambodia with a fascinating off-the-beaten-track trip to an area of Cambodia with particularly stunning scenery, many of the province’s waterfalls, forests, lakes and rock formations actually hold spiritual significance for the Khmer Loeu and other groups in the area.

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