Six hundred inmates of Kampong Chhnang provincial prison attended a religious ceremony led by Buddhist monks on Monday to say prayers and honour their ancestors as part of the ongoing Pchum Ben celebrations.
Nineteen monks came into the prison for the ceremony, something all detention centres across Cambodia were permitted to hold during the 15-day festival.
Kampong Chhnang provincial prison director Pov Vuthy told The Post on Tuesday that every year during Pchum Ben, monks would hold religious ceremonies in prisons so inmates could also pay respect to their ancestors.
“All prisoners are entitled to join in religious ceremonies according to their beliefs, just like the public, especially during the main national holidays – Khmer New Year and Pchum Ben,” Vuthy said.
With prisons serving a rehabilitative and correctional role, religious ceremonies provided the opportunity for inmates to reflect on their past misdeeds, Vuthy said.
The monks recited Buddhist teachings and readings from religious texts.
“Some 30 per cent of the 600 prisoners who attended the ceremony in prison on Monday and offered food to the monks had served three-quarters of their sentences,” Vuthy said.
Kampong Chhnang prison housed 884 prisoners, but 284 were Christians and Muslims who did not attend the Buddhist ceremony, he said.