In Cambodia, Pchum Ben (Ancestor’s Day) is celebrated on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar. This is a unique Cambodian Buddhist celebration consisting of a colourful religious festival blessing the souls of ancestors, relatives, and friends who have passed away.
Pchum Ben is one of the most important festivals in Cambodia. It is a time to remember, venerate, and present food offerings to one’s deceased relatives. Ancestors are honoured going back as far as seven generations, and offerings are also brought for those without living descendants or in place of those who could not attend the ceremonies.
Cambodians all over the country will travel to their home provinces for Pchum Ben, and there are services in many towns and villages.
Celebrants rise early in the morning to cook rice balls and other food items, which they bring to the monks in temples and pagodas. The monks chant suttas (Buddhist scriptures) all night without sleeping, then conduct the colourful and complex food offering ceremonies.
Some Khmer give the food to the priests, while others leave it at pagodas for their deceased relatives to eat or cast it into a field for them to find.
The first fourteen days see many offerings made, but it is the final, fifteenth day, that is the grand culmination of the whole period.
Happy Pchum Ben!