The 4.5-kilogram meteorite that slammed into a field in Banteay Meanchey province on Jan 24, 2005, was an omen of good luck, local villagers said at the time.
But more than a year later, the meteor is still being studied by scientists, and the villagers who gave it up are saying the government should reward them with money to hold ceremonies marking the meteorite’s arrival, which may also bring them some good luck.
“Villagers complain that the meteorite disappeared months ago and they do not know where it is,” said Yort Tray, deputy police chief of Thmar Pouk district. “They have asked for some funds from relevant officials for ceremonies in their village at the site where the meteorite dropped,” he said.
The Banteay Chhmar commune villagers have already held a few ceremonies around the small altar they built atop the 40-cm hole where the meteorite landed, dancing to both traditional and contemporary Cambodian music, Yort Tray said.
“It is a Khmer belief,” he added.
Minister of Industry, Mines and Energy Suy Sem said that the meteorite is being stored at his ministry but that no money is available to fund the villagers’ ceremonies.
“We have no such funding for meteorite ceremonies from the state,” Suy Sem said.
“If I had the ability, I would assist them. But I have helped fund canals and schools,” he said.
Two small pieces were cut from the meteorite and sent abroad for analysis in the US and Japan, but the ministry has not yet received the test results, Suy Sem said.
“It is not a gift,” he added. “It is from the sky and it is of nature.”
Chhim Bunny, governor of Thmar Pouk district, said he had not heard of the people’s request for ceremony funding.
But though he was sympathetic to the villagers’ request, the district government can’t provide for the ceremonies either, Chhim Bunny said.
“If they ask me for help, I will send the request to my superiors,” he said. “I have no money for this.”