The farmers in Cambodia are using the devices Known as “Ting Mong” in Khmer- a creatively rendered scarecrows which often pop up in villages that have been hard-hit by infectious diseases like dengue or water-borne diarrhoea.
“I’ve set up the Ting Mong to prevent the coronavirus from threatening my family,” says farmer Sok Chany, 45.
She has two of the objects posted in front of her wooden stilt home in Kampong Cham province, about 110 kilometres northeast of the capital Phnom Penh.
The other is dressed in camo-green and has a stick propped like a rifle across its hay-stuffed chest.
“It is our ancient superstition to set up Ting Mongs when there are dangerous diseases or to avert evil.”
According to APF, the majority-Buddhist kingdom has a strong strain of animism incorporated into the daily lives and rituals of Cambodians, with many believing that spirits are tied to places, animals and things.
The Ting Mongs are meant to ward off evil spirits wishing to bring harm on an unsuspecting family by spreading disease.
In Sok Chany’s Trapeang Sla village, no chances are taken — an effigy is tied to the gate of nearly every home, though constructed with varying degrees of effort.
Some are elaborately dressed in military uniform or floral pyjamas, while others simply have stuffed bags with sunglasses perched on them for a head.