Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pchum Ben: festival for all souls

Pchum Ben: festival for all souls

Pchum Ben: festival for all souls

Pchum Ben.jpg
Pchum Ben.jpg

A monk prays for the souls of a woman's loved ones, their names read to him by a lay assistant.

The Pchum Ben holiday is a festival of the dead. According to Buddhist tradition,

it is a time to comfort a soul and make it happy.

The two-week tradition, which runs from September 11 to September 25 this year, is

observed by most of the country's Buddhists. And it is wrought with cultural, supernatural

and religious beliefs.

In pagodas around the country, millions of Cambodians honor their lost loved-ones.

They take food gifts to pagodas to offer to the spirits of their family or close

friends.

Monks receive the food and then bless the soul of the deceased in return. The monks

eat the food that is offered and it is said that the tradition might have its origins

in ensuring that monks did not go hungry when confined to pagodas during the rainy

season.

It is believed that if a Cambodian does not offer a gift to the spirit of a relative

or close friend then that neglected soul would torment the miser and bring bad luck

until the next Pchum Ben.

But it is the desire to soothe the spirit of the dead rather than fear of a year

of misfortune that draws people to the pagodas.

Siphoeun Somreth, a Ministry of Culture spokesman, said that Pchum Ben can be a time

to honor not just those dear to you but anyone who has died.

"It does not matter who it is. Pchum Ben is for all the people and Cambodians

can offer whatever they like to the spirits. It does not have to be food. It could

be wine...it's up to the individual."

Somreth added that although the idea of giving food for Pchum Ben stems from a story

that spirits in hell are restless with hunger because of their sins, and that relatives

can appease that hunger by giving food, the festival is not just for bad spirits.

"How can we know if our mother was bad or not? Maybe she is in heaven, maybe

she is in hell. It is best to bless all the spirits just in case they are in hell,"

he said.

The most important point, he stressed, is to say the name of the person when the

gift is offered or when the monks are praying. That way, the soul can hear that a

blessing is being sent.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hun Sen defends decision to dock Westerdam cruise ship

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Thursday hit back at critics who say he allowed the Westerdam cruise ship to dock in Sihanoukville for political reasons. Speaking at an annual gathering of the Ministry of Interior, Hun Sen said he acted to avert a humanitarian catastrophe

  • Cool heads will defeat Covid-19

    Since Covid-19 was first reported as a world health issue, cruise ships have been the worst to suffer after airlines. The experiences of those who were initially trapped on the Covid-19-stricken Diamond Princess are unimaginable. The cruise ship was rejected from docking at one

  • Affordable housing project in Kandal nearing completion

    Worldbridge Homes Co Ltd’s $73 million affordable housing project in Kandal province’s Koh Kor village, in Sa’ang district, is on track to be completed at year’s end or at the beginning of next year, its general manager Yuk Sothirith told The Post

  • Westerdam passenger ‘never had’ Covid-19

    The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said the US citizen that allegedly tested positive in Malaysia after travelling on the Westerdam was never infected with Covid-19 in the first place. In an article published in the newspaper USA Today on Friday, CDC

  • Crimes up with 211 deaths, influx of foreigners to blame

    Minister of Interior Sar Kheng on Wednesday said crimes increased by eight per cent last year, resulting in 211 deaths. He revealed the figures during the ministry’s 2019 review and laid the blame for the increase on an influx of foreigners into the Kingdom. “The crime

  • Remaining MS Westerdam passengers test negative

    Tests conducted on the remaining 781 passengers of the MS Westerdam for Covid-19 came back negative, the Ministry of Health confirmed on Wednesday. It also noted that the last 233 passengers to disembark the MS Westerdam are now in Phnom Penh after they were transported there in