Cambodian Temple Party

Dallas festival draws worldwide attention with extraordinary unveiling at Cambodian temple

Dallas festival draws worldwide attention with extraordinary unveiling

Cambodia Festival and Ceremony
The Cambodian Buddhist Temple of Dallas will celebrate the completion of its carved gates with a three-day festival. Photo courtesy of Cambodia Buddhist Temple of Dallas

If you keep up on religious monuments and buildings, you may have already heard of Angkor Wat, an an enormous temple complex in Cambodia thought to be the largest religious monument in the world. Dallas will now have its own replica, which you can see at The Cambodian Buddhist Temple on June 12.

The temple will introduce its own version of this famed gate at a festival at 5701 Crystal Lake Blvd. The temple has hosted this festival for 31 years, but for the first time, organizers are doing outreach to the general public.

"The temple has always welcomed the public, but this is the first time where they're reaching outside of their community," says spokeswoman Teresa Nguyen. "It has everything to do with the gates."

Angkor Wat documents the history of the Khmer Empire, but it was never completed, making it all the more intriguing to scholars.

"This gate is a huge sense of pride for the local community, since it's a replica of Angkor Wat — specifically the towers — and Angkor Wat is deeply rooted in their history, culture, and religion," Nguyen says. "The Angkor Wat silhouette is on their country's flag. It's the largest religious monument in the world. It's their oldest Buddhist temple, and they wanted to share it with everyone."

It took more than four years to make the reproduction in Dallas. The construction team included 11 monks who live at the temple, and several community volunteers, who carved and sculpted the extraordinary gates by hand. The completed work measures 32 feet wide by 32 feet high.

The festival is of international significance, drawing more than 150 monks from around the world, including some from Cambodia, who will join the celebration and give their blessings on the festival and the temple. City and community leaders will be in attendance for a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sunday, June 12, at 2 pm.

Other features at the festival include more than two dozen vendors serving Cambodian street food such as beef skewers, papaya salads, coconut ice cream, and sugarcane juices. There'll also be a marketplace for shopping for everything from jewelry to home décor, plus cultural performances, dances, music, and even fortune telling. Admission is free.

"This is a meaningful moment for the Cambodian communities in general and has attracted attention worldwide," Nguyen says. "It's the gates, the significance of it, and the combination of the right people in place."