There was a whiff of Las Vegas about Koh Pich Theater on Friday night as a fired-up crowd gathered for One Fighting Championship’s much-hyped “Rise of the Kingdom,” an international cage-fighting event with a world championship title match on the card and a host of Cambodian fighters out to prove they can compete in the brutal arena of mixed martial arts.
Hundreds of soldiers, police officers and civil servants Thursday took part in a rehearsal march for next week’s three-day ceremony to transfer the ashes of the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk from the Royal Palace to a stupa in the Silver Pagoda.
On July 10, the first day of the ceremony, monks will offer blessings and receive offerings of food. On July 11, around 20,000 people from Phnom Penh are expected to line the streets to watch the transfer of the ashes.
“The 20,000 people will greet the king’s ashes by standing along the side street. We thought we don’t want to disturb people in the provinces, so [Royal Palace Minister] Kong Sam Ol has authorized Phnom Penh City Hall to invite people to attend the ceremony,” said Khuong Sreng, deputy municipal governor.
“Samdech Kong Sam Ol said that there is not enough space for a lot of people on the marching route, so we will prepare video for people from the provinces and they can watch through their TVs,” Mr. Sreng added.
The 13-km march will start at the Royal Palace, then travel along Street 184, Norodom Boulevard and Sothearos Boulevard before returning to the palace.
Brigadier General Kheng Tito, spokesman for the National Military Police, said thousands of armed forces personnel would be deployed to provide security during the march.
“We will block some streets related to the march of the late king’s ashes,” he said, declining to comment further.
On the third day of the ceremony, July 12, the ashes will be interred.
Traditionally, the remains of Cambodian kings have been divided and placed inside stupas on Odong Mountain, in the Royal Palace and in the Silver Pagoda.
But King Father Norodom Sihanouk requested that all of his remains be interred in the Silver Pagoda alongside the ashes of his late daughter, Princess Kantha Bopha, who died of leukemia in 1952 aged 4.
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