P’chum Ben: Its Significance

Among Cambodian annual festivities, P’chum Ben and Kan Ben are considered very significant. Literally, P’chum Ben means the gathering of the pieces of cooked rice to offer to the deceased. It culminates in 15th of full moon day and ends in 15th of waning moon day in lunar calendar of the 9th month or September 14 to September 28. The values of this festival notably inscribed its universal similarity, traditional practice, Buddhist ethics, and social, economic, political driven-force.

Universally, the festivity occurs during the darkest night. During these 15 days, the night in Cambodia is so dark and humid allowed Cambodian people to accelerate their belief of ghosts who dare appear only in the very dark night. The belief coincides with some Western countries especially Canada and America that their Halloween Day also happens in the very dark night. The purpose of the festival is to refer to ghosts or spirit, but practice is in different formats. Cambodian Buddhists bring food to offer to the Sangha, but Canadians and Americans joyfully play “trick or treat” with each other by transforming themselves as the night ghosts. Thailand and Lao also celebrate this day for the gratefulness to their deceased called Kao Sarth.

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