Family Sagas Season I Episode III: Ong San & A Lost (American?) Brother

Up to this day, still attractive I am sure. Sitting, still tall I can tell. ”Haven’t seen you in a while”. The smile also the same. ”It’s been some time. You don’t come much to the mosque anymore, where have you been?”. The voice has aged a bit, but it still holds on to the air. It still hangs in. Just like when Ong San was a ‘Bilal’ holding on the call for prayer, just when I was an anthropology undergrad, hanging out at the mosque. Me hours in, listening. Him hours out, chanting more than a mere call: for the ‘Bilal’ – named after the first muezzin of Islam – has a voice performing a much more important function among Chams – and more specifically the ‘followers the Imam San’ – than in other places. The photography goes from my hand to his: a double, enlarged. A smile, quite large. ”Oh… I forgot you framed that one”. Lost for a minute: ”It sure was back in the days!” bursts the laugh, deep, from the bottom of the lungs, if only laughs could be prayers… Continue reading

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Chams Clichés (3) – Mawlid Celebrations: Sweet Treats for the Dead & the Living

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Udong, September 2007 ©Emiko Stock - Traditional Mawlid cakes made by Imam San are being put up on the flashy Kah Lasai as celebration displays.

Udong, September 2007 ©Emiko Stock – Traditional Mawlid cakes made by Imam San are being put up on the flashy Kah Lasai as celebration displays.

In some Cham villages in Cambodia, the air has seemed milder for several days with the sweet-scented promise of delicacies to come. A pleasant smell of frying escapes from homes between Udong and Battambang. It announces the post-harvest season, the time for a treat for the palates. The cakes especially prepared for Mawlid celebrations will soon be ready so the saints can be celebrated. In Arabic, Mawlid traditionally refers to the celebration of the birth of Prophet Muhammad. Continue reading

Bits & Bites: Imam San’s Mawlid

The Mawlid, or annual celebration of the anniversary of the respected ‘saint’ Imam San, was performed by his followers on Monday 3rd September 2007, on the top of Udong Mount – a former khmer capital – where the Imam San founded his community by the 19th century.

©emikostock

©emikostock

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