Sunday, August 26, 2012

Buying India ink by the digital barrel

Angkor Wat in the early morning in June 2005. Family photo

Cambodia and India have a long history (that's half the reason the French called it Indochina), but not always the most friendly relations. Things soured a few months ago when a nongovernmental organization in India announced it intended to build a larger-than-life replica of Angkor Wat, the pride and joy of Khmer culture.

According to the BBC:
"It will be the world's largest Hindu temple… bigger in size, shape and height than the Angkor Wat of Cambodia," the [Mahavir Mandir Trust's] secretary, Acharya Kishore Kunal, told the BBC.

"It will be known as Virat Angkor Wat Ram temple but will also house other Hindu deities like Radha-Krishna, Shiv-Parvati, Ganesh, Surya and 10 incarnations of Lord Vishnu", he said.

"We'll make this temple the pride of the Hindu temples in the world and I've started it on the occasion of the 100th year of Bihar state's foundation."
This was not well received in Cambodia, which is predominately Buddhist and dependent on its famous temple to lure in millions of tourists. It doesn't help that Angkor Wat is one of the few symbols that unite the nation and Cambodians are notoriously suspicious of foreign claims.

But it all turned out to be a tempest in a masala chai pot.

According to The Phnom Penh Post:
Under pressure from the Indian government, however, the group has altered its building plans. Now, “it is not an exact replica of Angkor Wat temple, but has taken salient features of Angkor Wat and other temples also”, Kunal said via email.

“To respect the sentiments of Cambodian people, we change the name from Virat Angkor Wat Ram Temple to Virat Ramayan Mandir,” he added.
In honor of this newfound peace and brotherhood, Indians can buy my book on Amazon's storefront in South Asia. (Also, another primary factor is Amazon created a Kindle store for India.)

So if you're in India and have fifty or so rupees to spare, buy a copy while you can.

Phir milenge!

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