We were woken up at about 4:30 by the loudspeaker from the local Temple. It is the middle of Bonn Pchum Ben which is the festival held for commemoration of the spirits of the dead.
“The highlight is on the 15th day of the waxing moon during the tenth month of the Khmer calendar, called Pheaktrobotr.
The festival does not just begin and end on one day. In fact, it lasts 15 days, each of which is called a day of Kan Ben. A Ben is an offering. The word of Ben is derived from Sanskrit pinda, or balls of rice to be offered to the souls of the dead.
During the first 14 days, people take turns offering food to the monks of their local pagoda in the hope that their offering will reach the souls of their ancestors and friends by virtue of the monks’ sermons.
The present-day Ben are balls of glutinous rice, cooked in coconut milk and mixed with various ingredients according to local customs. The way a Ben is held also differs slightly from locality to locality. The final day of Pchum Ben is the most important for all followers. On this day, at every pagoda around the country, the mass collection of offerings (Bens) is dedicated to the souls of ancestors. If this duty is ignored, it is believed that the soul is cursed and will haunt the neglectful descendents for the rest of the year.”
Extract from Frizz Restaurant
This means that for the Khmer Christians we know it is a hard time. They are expected to participate and asked on numerous occasions over this period of time how many Wats or temples they have visited and there is huge pressure from family to go to the Wat.
It is also a time of year for families to meet up and many Khmers will go to visit family in the provinces so Phnom Penh is usually quite quiet.
We will have two days off school which will be nice and a much needed rest!