Open
In O'Roussey, a woman soaks palm fronds in a pond to be used for repairing a roof.

In O'Roussey, a woman soaks palm fronds in a pond to be used for repairing a roof.

The Cham of Cambodia are a syncretic religious minority who identify as Muslim, have their own language and religious texts. The Cham originated in what is now Vietnam and migrated to the territory of Cambodia several hundred years ago. During the Khmer Rouge, the Cham were targeted for genocide and many were killed or tortured. Nowadays, a small number of traditional Cham villages continue to practice their unusual religious rites, including spirit ceremonies, Friday prayers and special celebrations for Mohammed’s birthday. As peaceful, welcoming people whose religious practice is flexible, they are vulnerable to all kinds of influences (Orthodox Islam, Christianity, modernization) which are threatening the future existence of their ancient culture and unique traditions.

Open
Cham language lessons are held outside the local mosque.

Cham language lessons are held outside the local mosque.

Open

Fishing families live on the shore of the Tonle Sap river in Phnom Penh.

Open

A Chai ceremony, performed by Imam San Cham, in village Phase Trach, used to thank the ancestors after recovering from an illness.

Open

A woman takes on the spirit of a monkey during a Chai ceremony in Phase Trach.

Open

The bride's hair is cut in one of the rituals that is part of a traditional Imam San Cham wedding, in O'Roussey village.

Open

The bride's face is made up in traditional style during a three-day traditional Imam San Cham wedding.

Open

A stage designed for wedding portraits is set up in the bride's new home, a common feature of Cambodian weddings.

Open

The bride and groom are united in a ritual performed by the religious leader of the community on the marriage bed.

Open

The religious leader of the Imam San Cham community uses a drum to announce the start of the Friday prayer.

Open

Two teams from Muslim villages face off in a soccer match.

Open

In the towns along the highway north of Phnom Penh, there are a series of "Modern" Cham communities, who practice a conservative, mainstream version of Islam.

Close
Using Format