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Pchum Ben kicks off amid calls for safety precautions

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A Military Police officer directs traffic in front of Wat Langkar in Phnom Penh on the first day of Pchum Ben on Wednesday. Heng Chivoan

Pchum Ben kicks off amid calls for safety precautions

Prime Minister Hun Sen and National Assembly president Heng Samrin called on authorities at all levels to pay attention to ensuring safety, security and public order by directing traffic flows during the 15-day Pchum Ben festival starting on September 22 through October 5.

Cambodian Buddhists will observe Pchum Ben for 15 days from September 22 to October 6, with the principal festivities celebrated from October 5-7, ending a day after the main day of “great offering”, or Ben Thom, on October 6 coinciding with the new moon. The holiday is dedicated to their ancestors and is an occasion for families to get together.

“Please safeguard security, safety and public order. Direct the flow of traffic to make it easier for people and tourists during this festival,” Hun Sen said on the first day of the festival

He also called on the people to continue to prevent Covid-19 transmissions by practicing the three dos and 3 don’ts.

Minister of Cults and Religions Chhit Sokhon said that that in order to organise the festival smoothly and in accordance with Cambodian Buddhist customs and traditions, religion departments across the country as well as pagodas must follow the guidelines set forth by the government, the Ministry of Health and the local authorities in order to prevent further Covid-19 transmission.

“All municipal and provincial [religion departments] must considerately facilitate improvements to their festivities with special attention given to the concerns of monks as we celebrate the 15-day Pchum Ben festival as well as Kathina Festival, in accordance with our Buddhist traditions.

“They must also wear masks, take temperatures, maintain personal hygiene, wash hands with soap or sanitiser and socially and physically distance from each other. Practice the three dos and three don’ts,” Sokhon said.

In the capital, nearly 2,000 police officers will be deployed to various locations, including over 150 pagodas and along the routes to pagodas to direct the flow of traffic for people bringing donations there for the monks.

National Assembly president Heng Samrin called on people to remain vigilant as Cambodia was still striving to contain the pandemic.

“Please follow all guidelines and health and administrative measures. Honor our national heritage and traditions by ensuring the festival goes smoothly, without any increased transmission of Covid-19,”he said on September 22.

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