On Monday and Tuesday 12-13 October 2015 the Pchum Ben national holiday will be in full effect here in Cambodia. This is one of the most important festivals of the year so Hanuman close our offices to pay our respects to our ancestors.
Running for 15 days, usually from the end of September into early October, Pchum Ben festival is dedicated to blessing the spirits of the dead and is one of the most culturally significant events in the Kingdom of Cambodia. The exact date changes from year to year with the festival being based on the lunar calendar. Each household visits their temple of choice and offers food to the monks.
Offering food is seen as a generous act, earning merit and ensuring good luck. It is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. During the Pchum Ben festival, people bring food to the temple for the monks to feed hungry ghost ancestors, relatives and friends. Pagodas are often crowded with people patiently waiting their turn to make offerings and requesting monks pray for their late ancestors and loved ones. Many stay on at the pagoda to listen to Buddhist sermons.
Pchum Ben roughly translates as taking a piece of rice in your hand and moulding or pressing it into a ball to place as an offering to hungry ghosts on alters and around temple grounds. Hungry ghost or Preta (meaning departed ones in Sanskrit) is one of the six modes of existence in the Wheel of Life. They are seen as pitiful creatures with huge, empty stomachs and tiny mouths, with necks so thin they cannot swallow and always remain hungry. It is believed that beings are reborn as hungry ghosts because of their greed, envy and jealousy. As well as food offerings, the hungry ghosts also have lively entertainment laid on for them during Pchum Ben!