New abbot crowned in a special ceremony | Camden-Narellan Advertiser
The local Cambodian Buddhist community celebrated the investiture of a new abbot at Wat Khemarangsaram in Bonnyrigg this month.
Venglim Mel took office after the death of the previous abbot, Venerable Long Sakhone, at the end of last year.
The selection of Venerable Mel to serve as abbot was popular. He came to Australia eight years ago at the invitation of the Cambodian Buddhist Society of NSW. He has 20 years of experience as a monk and extensive knowledge of Buddhist scriptures, Pali and Sanskrit through studies at Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University in Phnom Penh.
Ravy Heng, board member of the Cambodian Buddhist Society of NSW, said Venerable Mel was widely respected in the community for his compassion and pastoral care of the sick and elderly. As acting abbot, he led the temple during the difficult period of closures.
The January 8 ceremony involved four Cambodian temples in Sydney.
Monks from Rossmore, Canley Vale and Cabramatta temples came to Bonnyrigg the day before to plan the ceremony. The area in front of the temple was decorated in Buddhist colors and a stage was built for the ceremony. A large decorative banner was designed by the abbot of Wat Rattanaram and installed behind the stage. Members of the temple community joined the worker bee.
Sambath Hing, a regular volunteer at the temple, provided the sound system for the ceremony.
The religious ceremony began with Venerable Mel leading a procession to the temple, shaded by a golden parasol. Once seated, the other monks took turns to anoint him with water from silver bowls, symbolizing purity. The elders of the community then came forward to sprinkle water and spread petals on him, as a blessing. Traditional music was played during the ceremony.
As part of the process, the congregation confirmed its support for Venerable Mel as abbot.
Sabouphary Tuy, Vice President of the Cambodian Buddhist Society of NSW, led the engagement.
He also thanked the abbots and monks of other temples for their support.
Cambodian community organizations were represented on this day. Srey Kang, Chairman of the Khmer Community of NSW, Lam Son of the Kampuchea Krom Cultural Center and Lychantha Sok of the Cambodian Salvation and Culture Association of NSW spoke on behalf of their organizations in support of the appointment of the Venerable Mel as Abbot.
After the ceremony, the newly invested abbot thanked the monks and the community for placing their trust in him. He paid tribute to the families who help with daily chores around the temple, praising especially the cooks who come to the temple every day to prepare food. He presented certificates of appreciation to some families to thank them for their contribution.
Usually, a ceremony as important as this draws a large crowd. This time attendance was restricted due to Covid and masks were worn, but the ceremony was streamed live via CBS TV on Facebook so the whole community could be involved.
Venerable Mel, who also has a bachelor’s degree in computer science, uses Facebook to broadcast religious services and ceremonies. This has been an important connection at times when the community was isolated due to COVID.