Relation between India and Cambodia Culture

Cultural Relation between India and Cambodia

Cultural Relations between India and Cambodia 

India-Cambodia cultural and historical relations are more than a millennium old when Indian culture, religion and trade emanated out of India and spread rapidly in various parts of South-East Asia. However, Cambodia witnessed Indian influence centuries before that whose living example is the temples of Sambor Prei Kuk built by Ishanvarmana I and other kings of Chenla empire during 6th and 7th Century AD in Ishanapura, the then capital of the Kingdom, which is so far the oldest known example of existence of Indian culture and religion in Cambodia. However, some scholars are of the opinion that the cultural and religious connect between India and Cambodia date back to 1st century. According to Cambodian belief, Khmer people’s founding legend centers around an Indian prince Kaundinya called Preah Thaong in Cambodian folklore. Cambodian society which is now predominantly Buddhist retains a strong influence of Indian Hindu and Buddhist rituals, idolatry and mythology which can be seen in many of its rituals having resemblance with Indian culture and traditions. Khmer language too is a live example of Indian culture which has approximately more than 3000 words originated from ancient Indian Sanskrit language. Later the pervading influence of Hinduism, Buddhism, and Indian architecture are borne out by the magnificent structures at Angkor Wat, Angkor Thom, Bayon, Ta Prohm, Bantey Srei, Preah Vihear and other religious and historical sites in Cambodia. In order to strengthen our old age close cultural links, Cultural Exchange Programme (CEP) between India and Kingdom of Cambodia was signed in 2000 which has been renewed from time to time. During the State Visit of Prime Minister Hun Sen to India in January 2018, the CEP has been renewed for a further period of four years till 2022. During recent visit of Hon’ble EAM, a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of India and National Authority on Preah Vihear has been signed for restoration of some parts of Preah Vihear temple. 

In order to strengthen our close cultural bonds, India, under Mekong Ganga Cooperation initiative, announced and setup MGC Asian Traditional Textiles Museum at Siem Reap which is a unique repository of traditional textiles of India and Southeast Asian countries including Cambodia. It also has a training centre and workshop in textiles; a fashion design and development centre using traditional ethnic designs; and various children activities in the centre. It also helps preserve the age-old tradition of textiles in this region. The Museum is another attraction for tourists coming to Siem Reap.

India had undertaken work for restoration and conservation of the Angkor Wat temple which is a world heritage site of UNESCO and an important tourist destination in Cambodia visited by millions of tourist every year. At present, India is engaged in the restoration work of Ta Prohm temple in Angkor Archaeological Park. India was appointed Co-chair for the International Coordinating Committee (ICC) on Preah Vihear, another world heritage site and one of the oldest temples of Lord Shiva. ICCR has been maintaining a Chair on Buddhist & Sanskrit Studies at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University and a full time Indian Professor on Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies is deployed by Government of India in the University.

Government of India with the support of Cambodian Ministry of Tourism and Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports has been organizing yoga events to celebrate International Day of Yoga (IDY). The 3rd IDY was celebrated in three cities of Cambodia in June 2017 which was attended by more than 2500 participants. In 2018, escalating the level of celebration of Yoga Day, Embassy organized celebration of International Yoga Day in four cities namely Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Battambang which witnessed increased number of attendees. Similarly, Festival of India which included many cultural events including event on the theme of Ramayana, which is a shared tradition of both India and Cambodia, had been organized by Embassy of India in Cambodia. Cambodian Ramayana troupes frequently visit India for their performances in various cultural programmes. Embassy of India in collaboration with Preah Sihanoukraja Buddhist University organized a four day international Conference on ‘Buddhism in Southeast Asia’ in Phnom Penh and Siem Reap in September, 2018 which was attended by prominent Buddhist scholars of almost all Buddhist countries of the world. To highlight the linkages between Sanskrit and Khmer language, Embassy of India organized maiden Sanskrit Day celebration in Embassy premises with participation of eminent Sanskrit scholars of Cambodia. Various cultural/educational programmes are being organized by Embassy to revive the old age cultural linkages between India and Cambodia.

Government of India has deputed a full time Bharatnatyam teacher in the Embassy who has been conducting dance classes at Royal University of Fine Arts and at the Embassy and schools etc. to propagate one of the Indian classical dance forms. Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR), Government of India has deployed a full time Teacher of Indian Culture in Embassy of India, Phnom Penh for propagation of Yoga, Sanskrit and Veda in Cambodia through organization of regular classes in Universities, organization of seminars, demonstrations etc. in various institutions/organizations.

Both India and Cambodia recognize and value not only our old age cultural and historical linkages but also our present robust cultural and people to people relationship and are engaged in strengthening bilateral cultural relationship between the two countries.