The Ministry of Cults and Religions will hold a three-day contest of Pātimokkha, Buddhist Preachings, and Smot (recitation) on October 4-6. The formerly annual event will be returning after a two year Covid-19 induced hiatus, according to a June 9 notice from the ministry’s National Inspectorate for Buddhist Studies.

The candidates have to follow the terms of recruitment of the commission of the National Inspectorate.

To enter the Pātimokkha contest, candidates must be monks or novice monks who have been in the monkhood for a period of five years. They must present their pagoda chiefs’ certification of their current addresses, period of monkhood, knowledge of Pātimokkha and their monk identification card.

In the Buddhist Preaching category, the same requirements must be met, and the potential contestant must also present his certificates of discipline or certificates of Buddhist Primary Education (Secondary Pali School).

To enter the Smot chanting, the candidates may be members of the clergy or lay people. They must be aged at least 15 and have a pagoda chiefs’ certification of their current address and a suitable form of ID.

Candidates are invited to submit application forms at the national inspectorate during working hours, will applications closing on September 20.

Venerable Penh Vibol, deputy director of the department of Buddhist High Schools of Cambodia and also a professor at Pannasastra University of Cambodia, said the contest is usually held annually.

“The contest is mainly intended to encourage monks to remember Pātimokkha – the discipline of the monks. The contest is judged according to seven educational attainments and 227 precepts. For example, a monk will draw one of these seven educational attainments, and then have to recite it. He will then be asked one or two questions, which the judging commission will evaluate,” he said.

He added that the contest aimed to encourage novice monks as well, and that the top six Pātimokkha places would be presented with awards and certificates.

The top three places in Buddhist Preaching would be rewarded the same way.

He said that Smot is open anyone who knows the recitations and has a good voice. Each participant would receive a certificate of participation and consolation prizes from Venerable Preah Pothivong Am Lim Heng.

Candidates in each of the three categories will have 15 minutes to demonstrate their knowledge.