Oct 6, 2011


Cambodia Pchum Ben Day

  • Oct 6, 2011
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  • Pchum Ben Day " Spirits of the Dead Festival" is also called the Ancestors' Day or the Spirit Day. It is observed in memory of ancestors, and the Cambodian Buddhists pay their respects to the dead by celebrations and offerings (a Ben is an offering). The Pchum Ben Festival is celebrated for fifteen days in the tenth moth of the Khmer calendar and the fifteenth day is called Pheaktrobotr.People throng the pagodas where the offerings of steamed cakes in banana leaves are made, dressed in their best clothes. Women wear colorful silk scarves, blouses and dresses. Special rice offerings are made and these are usually of sticky rice. The present day "Bens" are balls of rice cooked in local customs. The way a Ben is held also differs from locality to locality. It is a colorful festival celebrated by all. The last four days are public holidays when most Khmers visit the province/home town where they were born for family reunions.

    The people of Cambodia believe that after death they become ghosts whose earthly actions shape their appearance and that they walk the earth at this time. The living eases their suffering by offering them food. People also make offerings of money, dresses and other items to the monks in the temples/pagoda. All visitors are also offered food and soft drink. The offerings made are shared by the poor and the disabled during Pchum Ben and the donors acquire merit and cancel out past sins.

     One of the reasons the monks are offered gifts is because the Buddha commanded the monks to remain indoors for three months praying and meditating and hence food had to be given by outsiders. In the past, crops were planted inside the temple/pagoda grounds and the young plants would die if monks walked about, hence the were told to remain indoors. This was the time to concentrate and purify the minds, by engaging in meditation. People are told to abstain from alcohol and behave well, and the monks are secluded, because if they failed, they would not get any offerings during this festival.

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