News / Asia

Former Cambodian King Cremated

Two girls offer prayers to Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, February 4, 2013.
Two girls offer prayers to Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, February 4, 2013.
Robert Carmichael
Cambodians gathered in Phnom Penh to cremate the country’s former king, Norodom Sihanouk. In recent days, tens of thousands of Cambodians have paid their respects at the cremation sit next to the Royal Palace.
 
For Cambodians, the chance to say farewell to their former king has now ended.

On Friday morning, tens of thousands people lined the boulevards of the Cambodian capital to watch Sihanouk’s gilded coffin, the centerpiece of a mile-long funeral procession, pass them on its way to the cremation site.

  • Fireworks explode over the Tonle Sap River for the cremation of Cambodia's former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013.
  • Cambodian Queen Monique receives condolences at the crematorium site of her husband, the late King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013.
  • Cambodians pray near the cremation of former King Norodom Sihanouk in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, February 4, 2013. (R. Carmichael/VOA)
  • The coffin carrying the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession leaves the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, February 1, 2013.
  • Mourners pay their respects to the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession in Phnom Penh, February 1, 2013.
  • Cambodian Army soldiers practice how to fire artillery launchers in front of Royal Palace ahead of the funeral for former King Norodom Sihanouk January 31, 2013, in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.
  • A woman mourns the late former Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk in a funeral procession in Phnom Penh.
  • A mourner offers prayers to the late Cambodian King Norodom Sihanouk ahead of Sihanouk's funeral.
  • Buddhist monks offer prayers to Cambodian late King Norodom Sihanouk ahead of his cremation in front of the Royal Palace in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Tens of thousands more, clad in black and white - the colors of mourning - filed past Sihanouk’s coffin Saturday and Sunday. Many had come from the rural provinces, where the majority of Cambodians live, to pay their respects.

By midday Monday thousands more were gathered near the Royal Palace as the time for Sihanouk’s cremation approached.

On Monday evening at six, the funeral pyre will be lit by Sihanouk’s widow and by his son - the current king of Cambodia, Norodom Sihamoni.

Ambassador Julio Jeldres, the late king’s official biographer, explains what will happen next.

“Well after the cremation today the ashes are left there at the crematorium until they cool down. Then they are washed and then they are divided in two parts,” said Jeldres.

The first part will be placed in a golden urn and placed in the Throne Room at the palace until workers enlarge a stupa (Buddhist reliquary) within the grounds to take the urn. That stupa contains the ashes of Sihanouk’s daughter, who died when five years old from leukemia.

“The other part will be put in another container and it will be taken in a boat accompanied by the Royal Family and then dropped at the confluence of the two rivers - the Tonle Sap and the Mekong - which is called the Chaktomuk," he said.  "It is in front of the Royal Palace.”

Jeldres expects the scattering of the ashes will take place later this week.

Norodom Sihanouk is widely seen as the father of Cambodia’s independence, which he secured from the former colonial power France in 1953. He was far more than a mere monarch, though, and after gaining a taste for politics in the early 1950s he abdicated and became prime minister of Cambodia and, later, head of state.

In 1991, King Sihanouk returned to Cambodia and two years later he was crowned king once again, nearly four decades after he had first abdicated.

But in 2004, he stepped down for the second time, frustrated at the limitations of being a constitutional monarch.  King Sihanouk spent his final years in Beijing where he was treated for a number of ailments. He died there of a heart attack in October, aged 89.

Among foreign dignitaries attending will be Jean-Marc Ayrault, the prime minister of France, and the premiers of Thailand, Vietnam and Laos.

Some Cambodians will doubtlessly remember King Sihanouk’s ill-fated 1970s alliance with the murderous Khmer Rouge. But many others will dwell on his achievements while in office, including his drive in those early years for independence, for the country’s territorial integrity and his drive to improve education and health.

You May Like

Video Experts Warn World Losing Ebola Fight

Doctors Without Borders says world is losing battle against Ebola, unless wealthy nations dispatch specialized biological disaster response teams More

Video Experts: Rise of Islamic State Significant Development in Jihadism

Many analysts contend the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years More

US-Based Hong Kongers Pledge Support for Pro-Democracy Activists

Democracy advocates call on Chinese living abroad to join them in opposing new election rules for their home territory More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearancei
X
Elizabeth Lee
September 02, 2014 8:57 PM
Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Larger Than Life Chinese Lanterns Make Southern California Appearance

Chinese lanterns with a long history are lighting up in 21st century style at the Los Angeles County Fair in southern California. Visitors can see traditional lanterns that hang, but also lanterns in the shape of animals, iconic landmarks and many other objects, all created by artisans from a place in China known for its lanterns. Elizabeth Lee has the details from the fair in the city of Pomona.
Video

Video Experts See Rise of ISIS as Significant Development

The Islamic State’s rise seems sudden. It caught the U.S. by surprise this summer when it captured large portions of northern Iraq and spread its wings in neighboring Syria. But many analysts contend that the group - which grew out of al-Qaida in Iraq - has been rebuilding for years. VOA's Jela de Franceschi takes a closer look at the rise of ISIS and its implications for the Middle East and beyond.
Video

Video Israel Concerned Over Syrian Rebels in Golan

Israeli officials are following with concern the recent fighting between Syrian rebels and government forces near the contested Golan Heights. Forty-four U.N. peacekeepers from Fiji have been seized by Syrian Islamist rebels and the clashes occasionally have spilled into Israel. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video Ukraine Schools Resume Classes, Donate to Government Forces

A new school year has started in Ukraine but thousands of children in the war-torn east are unable to attend because of ongoing clashes with pro-Russia rebels. In Ukraine's capital, patriotic education has become the norm along with donations to support injured security forces fighting to take back rebel-held areas. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Kyiv.
Video

Video US Detainees Want Negotiators for Freedom in North Korea

The three U.S. detainees held in North Korea were permitted to speak with foreign media Monday. The government of Kim Jong Un restricted the topics of the questions, and the interviews in Pyongyang were limited to five minutes. Each of the men asked Washington to send a representative to Pyongyang to secure his release. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti has our story.
Video

Video Turkmen From Amerli Describe Survival of IS Siege

Over the past few weeks, hundreds of Shi'ite Turkmen have fled the town of Amerli seeking refuge in the northern city of Kirkuk. Despite recent military gains after U.S. airstrikes that were coordinated with Iraqi and Kurdish forces, the situation remains dire for Amerli’s residents. Sebastian Meyer went to Kirkuk for VOA to speak to those who managed to escape.
Video

Video West Africa Ebola Vaccine Trials Possible by Early 2015

A U.S. health agency is speeding up clinical trials of a possible vaccine against the deadly Ebola virus that so far has killed more than 1,500 people in West Africa. If successful, the next step would be a larger trial in countries where the outbreak is occurring. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
Video

Video Survivors Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Nazi Liquidation of Jewish Ghetto

When the German Nazi army occupied the Polish city of Lodz in 1939, it marked the beginning of a long nightmare for the Jewish community that once made up one third of the population. Roughly 200,000 people were forced into the Lodz Ghetto. Less than 7,000 survived. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, some survivors gathered at the Union League Club in Chicago on the 70th anniversary of the liquidation of the Lodz Ghetto to remember those who suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime.

AppleAndroid