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Sick Cambodians Claim Bulls Have Healing Power

Mon., Nov. 3, 1997

This small southern village draws ailing miracle-seekers from around Cambodia, not for a dip in healing waters but for the touch of two bovines.

Believers arrive by the hundreds every day, seeking cures for their illnesses from the two bulls.

They claim that just a lick by one of the animals will end or alleviate a variety of maladies, including stomach aches, fatigue and stiff joints. Some say the animals’ curative powers extend to blindness and physical disabilities.

But if the bulls, which spend most of their day resting and being hand fed grass and herbs, don’t feel like licking, believers will ingest the animals’ waste products to achieve the same effect.

Hem Nan recently traveled 115 miles to this village for small samples of dung and urine, for which she paid 70 cents.

The 40-year-old woman said she’ll eat the specimens the next time she’s under the weather.

“It’s good for anything - aching muscles, headaches, fatigue,” she said.

The bulls’ fame grew two months ago after one of them licked the leg of a lame man, reportedly healing him, and then cured a deathly thin woman by drinking from her family’s cistern.

The animals were named Preah Ko, a sacred cow in ancient lore, and Preah Keo, a Buddha image.

The news quickly spread, reaching even Cambodian leader Hun Sen.

But Hun Sen said at a public ceremony in the country’s capital last month that he did not believe in the animals’ healing powers.

But the faithful have no ears for skepticism.

Heng Pros, a 25-year-old blind man, has been with the bulls for two weeks. He believes that putting dung in his eyes may help eventually restore his sight.

“I feel much better, but I still can’t see,” he says.

News of the bulls’ powers has brought bustling business to the small and otherwise unremarkable village. Drink shops have sprung up and vendors hawk bundles of grass and herbs for 18 cents so people can feed Preah Keo and Preah Ko while praying for cures.


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