Recently discovered 130-year-old anchor has become a site of pilgrimage for hundreds
Last week, 43-year-old Chan Vanna was approached by a Phnom Penh fisherman looking to sell a unique item: a 130-year-old ship’s anchor discovered at the Chaktomuk convergence of the Tonle Sap, Mekong and Bassac rivers.
At first, Ms. Vanna said she declined the fisherman’s offer, but later changed her mind after having a dream about the 2.5 meter long object that bears an inscription indicating it was forged in 1883.
“I had a dream that god mother [spirit] came down from the sky and told me that the anchor should be taken to the Royal Palace,” Ms. Vanna said in an interview yesterday.
“I bought it, and now I am going to hand it over to the Royal Palace. It is a magical object,” she said of her anchor, whose price she preferred not to reveal.
Following the purchase, she hired a crane to haul the anchor to the Prachum Sakor pagoda in Russei Keo district on Thursday, where it has become an instant site of pilgrimage for hundreds who also believe it holds magical powers.
“Before, my arm hurt without reason, but I prayed to the anchor, and now I feel back to normal,” she said.
Word of Ms. Vanna’s miraculous recovery spread around Phnom Penh in a matter of days, and now the anchor sees as many as 200 visitors a day, she said.
Dang Sitha, a 60-year-old villager from Chroy Changva commune, visited the anchor with her family yesterday in order to pray for better health. Ms. Sitha said that she had heard stories of the anchor’s ability to heal, and hopes the object will do the same for her.
“I have arthritis, so I came here to pray and I have brought water to apply all over my body. I will wait and see if it works,” she said.
Other villagers such as Vin Ang, also from Chroy Changva, arrived yesterday with hopes that the anchor would give her lasting health.
“I have come here just to pray for myself,” she said.
Phay Sophon, an officer with the heritage protection department of the Ministry of Interior, said that he was visiting the anchor in order to evaluate the authenticity of the object, and it would be a matter of days until a decision is made on what to do with it.
In the meantime, Buddhist monk Chea Soksinath, abbot of the Wat Prachum Sakor, said he was happy to temporarily hold onto the anchor, but that people should know that what they are praying to is no more than a simple anchor with no magic powers.
“Those who have deep knowledge of Buddhism, they do not respect it, but those with little knowledge of Buddhism, they do,” he said. “People come here to pray to the anchor because it is their belief. We cannot ban them from believing in it…. They have the right.”