Cultural Relations between India and Cambodia

India-Cambodia cultural and historical relations are more than a millennium old when Indian culture and religion emanated out of India and spread rapidly in various parts of South-East Asia and deeply rooted in society but Cambodia witnessed its 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. According to Cambodian belief, Khmer people’s founding legend centers around an Indian prince Kaundinya called Preah Thaong in Cambodian folklore. Cambodians 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 Phrom, 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.

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 has scheduled celebration of International Yoga Day in four cities namely Phnom Penh, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap and Battambang with increased number of prospective 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 in 2017.

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.  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. Indian classical musical programme ‘Bhiarav Se Bhairavi Tak’ by Pandit Rajan Misra and Pandit Sajan Misra, eminent vocalists of Banares Gharana of Indian classical music, had been organized in Angkor Archaelogical Park in March, 2018. Event received wide attention from all sections of society including top officials of Cambodian Government, students and youths. Event was graced by the presence of Minister of Culture and Fine Arts, Kingdom of Cambodia as Chief Guest.

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.




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