Buddha-Shaped Termite Nests Draw Crowds

PHNOM PENH ~ Hundreds of devout Cambodians have flocked to see five unusually shaped termite nests that look like seated figures of Buddha, witnesses said.

The iconic insect homes appeared on the cement floor of 56-year-old Kuong Keo Ry’s house near Phnom Penh, shortly before a traditional death festival held in October when she was mourning her late husband.

“I am happy that my house has been chosen. After other people and I pay respect to the Buddha shapes, we all feel content,” the widow said.

She said she first became curious about the nests in October because she would sweep them away every day – but that the wood-munching bugs would rebuild them overnight.

Over the past month around 50 to 60 people had come to her house every day to view the Buddhas, Kuong Keo Ry said.

A journalist who went to see the termite Buddhas said he was “thrilled” by them.

“It’s like a miracle to me,” said Sok Samnang, who hosts a Cambodian television show.

“One night after we put jasmine ornaments around the five Buddha shapes, they became higher. Each of them is 50 centimeters tall and looks exactly like a seated Buddha,” he said.

Cambodian Buddhist scholars have said that the Buddha shapes represent apparitions of deities.

“I’ve never seen anything like this before in my life. I believe the termites are trying to bring us a message from God,” said devout Buddhist San Son, 60, who visits the nests regularly to pray.

Buddhism permeates all aspects of culture in Cambodia, despite attempts to eradicate it by the former Khmer Rouge regime.

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