Plans were put in place Monday to inter the ashes of late King Father Norodom Sihanouk in the Royal Palace’s opulent Silver Pagoda, a break from a tradition that saw his predecessors’ remains partially housed in a stupa on the top of Odong mountain.
Royal Palace and government officials met at the Chaktomuk Conference Hall in Phnom Penh to discuss the movement of the remains of the King Father, who died in Beijing in October 2012 and was cremated in Phnom Penh in February 2013.
“There will be a three-day ceremony on July 10, 11 and 12 to march the late king’s urn to the stupa in the Silver Pagoda compound,” Royal Palace Minister Kong Sam Ol said after the meeting, which included deputy prime ministers Sok An, Men Sam An and Yim Chhay Ly.
“[The late King Father] said that after his remains were held in the Royal Palace, he asked us to march his remains to be interred in a stupa in the Silver Pagoda,” Mr. Sam Ol said.
On the first day of the three-day ceremony, monks will offer blessings and receive food. On the second day, the remains will be marched along Norodom, Sihanouk and Sothearos boulevards.
On the third day, they will be interred, Mr. Sam Ol said.
The Royal Palace minister said King Father Sihanouk had been adamant—reminding him “two or three times”—that his remains should be interred at the Silver Pagoda alongside his late daughter, Princess Kantha Bopha, who died from leukemia in 1952 at age four.
“The late King built this stupa about 50 years ago and it is very old, so we are repairing it and it will be finished in about a month,” Mr. Sam Ol said.
Traditionally, the remains of kings have been divided and placed atop Odong mountain and in the Royal Palace itself, as well as in the Silver Pagoda.
Mr. Sam Ol also said Monday that he hoped authorities in Phnom Penh would prevent people from disturbing the ceremony.
“Not only the 55 lawmakers of opposition party, but also independent monks and people with land dispute problems may go to disturb the ceremony, so we want the Phnom Penh authorities to please think about this problem,” Mr. Sam Ol said.
Mr. An noted that the 55 CNRP lawmakers-elect had “snubbed” an invitation to attend the unveiling of the statue of the King Father in Phnom Penh last year.
In that case, authorities required the CNRP’s 55 lawmakers-elect to wear ceremonial gowns that they only could have secured by ending their then-fresh boycott of their National Assembly seats.
“As is our experience, we should invite them [to the July ceremony], but we ask them, please don’t cause any disorder like this again,” Mr. An said after Monday’s meeting.
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