Vendors Offer Spirits Pigs for Corner Stalls

Kneeling on the cement floor of the O’Russei Market, Meas Srey Toch gave thanks Sunday to the god who blessed her—with a corner stall location.

As the market prepares for its Aug 3 opening, much attention has been paid to vendors protesting outside the new building, complaining about higher lease prices, smaller stall spaces and up­stairs locations forcing them to haul their goods up from the ground floor.

But some vendors, those who fared well in the recent drawing for stall locations, are literally giving thanks.

“I prayed to the market spirits that if I got the corner shop, I would offer them a roast pig,” said Meas Srey Toch, a 38-year-old clothes merchant. On Sun­day, beside shop number 01-72, a first floor corner stall, she prepared her offering.

“Now my commitment has been fulfilled,” she said.

Several Cambodian businesswomen said they relied on their gods and their ancestor spirits to help them. One lady said she got a corner shop because she had prayed at the pagoda and vowed to buy one ton of cement for pagoda construction plus give $100 to a monk.

O’Russei market chief Kean Lak said vendors have been praying for corner locations since the day the shop drawing was announced. “Our market spirits are very powerful,” he said. “Those who prayed for them here got what they wished for. Some [vendors] danced and kissed each other because their wish was achieved.” Kean Leak claimed the value of a 20-year lease on a corner stall could balloon to $30,000. The actual price of the new leases range from $1,900 and $3,000.

The gods couldn’t please everyone. Hea Chu, a 45-year-old cosmetics vendor, went to several pagodas to get holy water from monks before drawing his shop number, but he still ended up with a booth in the middle of a row.

“In spite of this, I have to abide by what I have promised,” he said. “If I don’t do that, I feel bad things will happen to my business.”

The drawings are done by product category. Market officials plan to finish the location selection process in mid-July.

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