Oct 18 2012
When the news first broke that the former king of Cambodia Norodom Sihanouk had died, many Cambodians were in the countryside provinces marking the Pchum Ben festival. As the word spread, Facebook statuses and profile pictures were updated.
Many who had remained in the capital made their way to the Royal Palace to pay their respects under the large portrait swathed in black fabric, lit up all night.
Chanting from candle-lit books outside the palace has continued throughout the nights since the death was announced.
On October 17, when the body returned from China, tens of thousands of people lined the streets of Phnom Penh to get a glimpse.
Families, dressed in white clothes of mourning with a twist of black ribbon, waited patiently in the sun for the ‘Grandaddy King’.
Nuns and laypeople, wearing all-white outfits and with shaved heads, prayed as the monks’ chanted.
The love and respect for the former king, who reigned until 2004, was evident.
Once the casket had been taken inside the Royal Palace, the crowds dispersed. During the evening, those still returning to Phnom Penh went to light candles and offer incense.
By midnight, a small group of Cambodians were still paying their respects on the red carpet opposite the King Father’s portrait.
In accordance with the official week of mourning, there is no loud music to be heard on the streets of Phnom Penh. Some entertainment venues such as cinemas are closed for a few days.
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