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The Pchum Ben Festival in 2018


Jenny Hout

Publish on Oct 03, 2018

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Pchum Ben is considered unique and the most important holiday in Cambodia which is celebrated for our ancestor up to 7 generations. The festival held for 15 days in Pheaktra Bot based on the Lunar Calendar and usually between late September to mid-October every year. As Cambodian ritual, in Pheaktra Bot is a time that the gates of hell open and releases the spirit of deads to find their living relatives.

During the festival, Cambodian spend the holiday to visit their hometown and gathering together for offering food to the monks and honour their ancestor.

The Celebration of Pchum Ben

The 15 days of Pchum Ben are divided into 2 parts – the first 14th day see many offerings made – monks will chant sutras (Pali language) all night without sleeping, then conduct the colourful and complex food offering ceremonies and the final of 15th day – that is the grand culmination of the whole period, it also the last day of the ceremony. We will have 3 days for public holidays to visit our hometowns and gather with our family or even have a huge meal together.


How we celebrate

Giving Bay Ben (Rice Ball)

Giving rice ball is an important event to offer food to the priest. At the dawn time, layman arranges the ceremony – walking around pagoda without shoes and everyone holds a plate of rice ball and throw it at the corner of the pagoda for three rounds. Meanwhile, we believe the hungry ghost will come to receive the rice ball that people dedicated to them.

In the morning, we prepare the food for monks – It is also believed that deceased relatives will wait at the pagoda for food made by their families. This celebration will take turns through the whole village in 14 days.

The main event

The 15th is the most important day of Pchum Ben and also the last day of the ceremony. We dress in white to attend the pagoda to make food offerings, intended to placate the dead and relieve their suffering in life after death that makes via monks. End of the ceremony, we will have a party with the whole family and enjoy the last day of meet up during the holiday.

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