The original version of this photo appears simultaneously in my photo blog. First I edited the colour levels using the GIMP photo editor. It is a free software from Open Source. It functions almost like Photoshop but it’s free. Then, using Picasa, I tinkered more with the focal settings – focal B and W and the zoom to achieve this effect.
A spirit shrine is a common site in Cambodia. In all of my travels in the country, I have seen them almost everywhere, including hotels and other business establishments. In Cambodian culture, the practice of ancestor spirit worship predates Hinduism and Buddhism in the country.
Neak ta, they are called in the Khmer language. They are spirits who watch over and guard people, places, and things. In return for the protection, the people are expected to maintain the shrine and offerings – in the form of lotus flowers, incense, fruits, to name a few. The shrine is visited by local and, sometimes, foreign, visitors. These visitors are expected to act accordingly and respectful of the shrine and neak ta. Otherwise, any untoward behaviour demonstrated by the visitors or the people in the vicinity of the shrine (or the village where the shrine is located), misfortune, all sorts of bad luck or horrible diseases befall them.