Hun Sen Gifted With Sacred Buddhist Relics

The Indian ambassador to Cambodia on Tuesday presented Prime Minister Hun Sen with a number of sacred Buddhist objects during a private meeting between the two men in Phnom Penh, according to Mr. Hun Sen’s assistant.

Speaking to reporters after the meeting at Mr. Hun Sen’s office building, known as the Peace Palace, Eang Sophalleth said that Indian Ambassador Dinesh Patnaik had handed over holy objects from three of the “Eight Places” of Buddha, which are revered sites of pilgrimage in India and Nepal.

“Bodh Gaya was the place where Buddha was enlightened, Sarnath was the place that Buddha performed dharma, and Kusinara was where Buddha died,” Mr. Sophalleth said.

“Among the gifts were also leaves from the Bodhi tree,” under which Buddha is believed to have achieved enlightenment, he added.

“Samdech Akeak Moha Sena Padei Decho Prime Minister Hun Sen also thanked His Excellency Dinesh for giving him the sacred gifts…so that his family can receive happiness and luck,” Mr. Sophalleth added, using the prime minister’s full ceremonial title.

He declined to elaborate on what exactly Mr. Hun Sen had been given other than the holy leaves.

Khim Sorn, chief of the secretariat of the Mohanikaya monastic order, which has strong ties to the ruling party, said the gifts would cement people’s belief in the power of Buddha.

“Whatever happens, we will respect and pay sacrifice to these sacred things, and we will receive happiness and luck,” he said.

Mr. Hun Sen also met Tuesday with British Ambassador Bill Longhurst, but it was not clear if any gifts were given.

“His Excellency the British ambassador said he was glad to be ambassador and that he is interested in Cambodia’s economy, increasing investment, and British tourism to Cambodia,” Mr. Sophalleth said.

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