Guardians of the temples

Travelling allows you to see the world from a different perspective. For me, it brings joy to be in a different place, immersing in a different culture and all the diversities it has to offer. It also reveals unusual things hidden behind the most common things you see every day.  One such experience happened while driving along the foot of the Kulen Mountain in Cambodia.

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As we navigate the dusty road going to a remote village, lo and behold, I saw a Buddhist temple gate guarded by rabbits! Yes smiling rabbits with up straight ears! And why would it seem unusual?  Because most of the temple guards are ferocious and mean-looking animals.

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In Myanmar, temples are guarded by chinthe, the mythical lion. The four entrances to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda in Yangon are guarded by pairs of giant chinthes.

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I have also seen a temple guarded by a dragon. It is different from the wide-neck-cobra-like snakes behind Buddha statues common in Myanmar.

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In Thailand, the chinthes or singha as it is locally called are even reinforced by monsters with swords.

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In Cambodia, besides the chinthes, the seven-headed (sometimes five-headed) Naga are favourite guardians particularly in some temples in the Angkor Wat complex.

Back to the guardian rabbits, maybe the monks in the pagoda are not afraid of the spirits that they posted cuddly and smiling rabbits instead of huge and fearsome animals.

 

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