Cambodian farmers use scarecrows to repel viruses

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Members of a Cambodian family prepare a scarecrow in front of their home (AFP)

Kampong Cham, Cambodia:

Armed with a stick, a floral shirt scarecrow and a plastic pot for a head stand outside a rural Cambodian house – a sentry post set up by superstitious farmers to fight off the coronavirus.

Known as “Ting Mong” in Khmer, the creatively rendered scarecrows often appear in villages severely affected by infectious diseases such as dengue fever or waterborne diarrhea.

This time, “I set up the Ting Mong to prevent the coronavirus from threatening my family,” says 45-year-old farmer Sok Chany.

She has two in front of her wooden pile house in Kampong Cham Province, about 110 kilometers northeast of the capital Phnom Penh.

The other is clad in camo green and has a stick propped like a gun on his chest filled with hay.

“It is our old superstition to set up Ting Mongs for dangerous diseases or to ward off evil,” she told AFP.

The majority Buddhist kingdom has a heavy burden of animism built into the daily life and rituals of Cambodians. Many believe that ghosts are tied to places, animals and things.

The Ting Mongs are said to ward off evil spirits who want to harm an unsuspecting family by spreading diseases.

No risk is taken in Sok Chany’s village of Trapeang Sla – an image is tied to the gate of almost every house, although it was built with varying degrees of effort.

Some are elaborately dressed in military uniforms or floral pajamas, while others have simply stuffed bags with sunglasses for their heads.

Farmer Ton Pheang stuffs old clothes into the arm of his Ting Mong, who wears a bright pink shirt and has a helmet for his head.

“This is my second – the first broke,” says the 55-year-old, adding that his scarecrow has been on guard in the sun and rain since April, when the outbreak spread rapidly across Southeast Asia.

“We’ve been doing well since the outbreak,” Ton Pheag told AFP. “I will leave it as long as Covid still exists.”

Cambodia appears to have escaped the brunt of the pandemic, with only 283 infections and no deaths – although skeptics say the low toll could be due to a lack of testing.

(This story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)

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