A large number of international and domestic tourists visited the Angkor Wat Temple in Siem Reap province yesterday morning to view the Sun Rise on Equinox and also to take photos of the beautiful view.
According to sources in the Ministry of Tourism, 2,306 international tourists visited the temple on Monday morning to watch the event. There is no count of domestic tourists. More people are expected to visit the temple on Tuesday too.
According to National Geographic, equinoxes are when Earth’s subsolar point (where the sun’s rays shine perpendicular to the Earth’s surface) passes through its equator. During an equinox, the centre of the sun’s disk is in the same plane as the equator and the length of the day and night is roughly the same.
Equinox occurs twice a year — on March 20 or 21 (there are different views about this) and also in September. After the Vernal or Spring Equinox in March, the Northern Hemisphere tilts toward the sun, until the June solstice, when it begins to migrate south. The Fall Equinox occurs in September.
According to the Old Farmer’s Almanac of the US, the Vernal Equinox fell on March 21 during most of the 20th century, but due to the 400-year Gregorian calendar cycle, the event occurs a tiny bit earlier every year. Due to time zone differences, the Almanac says, there won’t be a March 21 equinox in the US during most of the 21st century. The last March 21 Equinox was in 2007.
Spring Equinox, therefore, according to it, is on March 20 this year.
But according to the Apsara National Authority, the Spring Equinox will occur on March 21, 2023. “In 2023, the special sunrise event can happen twice a year, once on March 21 and again on September 22. The public as well as tourists are encouraged to take pictures of this great event,” it said in a communication.
Im Sokrithy, archaeologist and Director of the Department of Research, Training, and Communication of the Apsara National Authority, said that this special event may have been widely celebrated by the Brahmins during the Angkorian period.
“But those ceremonies did not continue, leading to their disappearance. When we look at the origins of Khmer civilization, we can see that it is influenced by India and perhaps more or less we practise some Brahmin traditions as well,” Sokrithy noted.
This auspicious day of the season is a special day for yoga practitioners also because it is the best time to get the benefits of yoga more than ever, it is believed.
Thourn Sinan, Chairman of Pacific Asia Travel Association (PATA) Cambodia Chapter, told Khmer Times yesterday that Equinox visits to Angkor Wat have become part of the tourism calendar of Cambodia as well. “It is very unique and a special day for many,” he said.
It is also believed that the alignment of Angkor Wat provides the best view for a sunrise experience and this has added to the tourism attraction.
According to Forbes magazine, Angkor Wat is an ideal destination to experience Equinox. The temple complex is in fact the foremost among the six monuments in the world it listed for watching an Equinox.
“On the dates of the equinoxes in both March and September each year, the Sun rises directly over the centre of the five huge lotus towers that dominate the 12th-century Angkor Wat temple complex in Cambodia. It projects a shadow that aligns exactly with the causeway/entrance bridge to the west. Visitors get the best effect if they stand on the causeway,” it said in an article.
This article was first published in Khmer Times. All contents and images are copyright to their respective owners and sources.