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Cambodian Ramayana

The Cambodian version of the epic Ramayana is known as ‘Reamker.’ It is also known as Ramakerti. There are references of Ramayan in Cambodian culture from the tenth century AD. The literary text of Khmer adaptation dates back to the 16th century.

Ramayana might have reached Cambodia through the contact with the South Indian kingdoms. Ancient Hindu temples here provide the earliest references of Ramayan and the world famous Angkor Wat temple depicts various episodes from the epic.

In Reamker, Lord Ram is known as ‘Preah Ream’ and Ravana is known as ‘Krong Reap.’ Sita is called ‘Neang Seda’ and Lakshman is called ‘Preah Leak.’ The name of Hanuman is the same but with a slightly different pronunciation.

In Cambodia, the earliest reference to the Ramayana is the Val Kantel inscription (seventh century), which mentions the recitation of both this epic and of texts from the scriptural tradition known as the Purana.

The influence of the Ramayana on Cambodian culture, which began to be felt during the Angkor period (9th to 13th centuries) and has continued till modern times.

The story is depicted on the bas-reliefs of Angkor and on the frescoes of many temple walls.
It is the subject of the traditional shadow play, the speak dham.

The popular masked dance Ikhon Khol is based on the episodes from the Ramayana.

The reverence with which Cambodians regard the character of Ram is not merely for the Hindu reason, that he is god, living on earth in order to quell evil. In the Reamker Rama is presented as being more than that: he is the Buddha himself. 

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