Pchum Ben

Cambodia is celebrating the annual Buddhism’s Pchum Ben Festival which is the major Buddhist festival from September 13 to 28 to dedicate offerings to their relatives who have passed away so as to ask back blesses from their dead members.

Meaning of the Festival:

The word ‘Ben’ in Khmer means to collect; ‘Ben’ also means to cup or mould cooked rice into portions. The word ‘Phchum’ means to congregate or to meet together. Regardless how busy they may be during the fifteen days of Pchum Ben, Cambodian people try not to miss a visit to the pagoda to dedicate food and offerings to the dead, according to the Buddhist document.
According to a Cambodian monk, it is believed that some of the dead receive punishments for their sins and burn in hell – they suffer a lot and are tortured there. Hell is far from people; those souls and spirits cannot see the sun; they have no clothes to wear, no food to eat. Thus, Pchum Ben is the period when those spirits receive offerings from their living relatives and perhaps gain some relief.
Cambodians who are Buddhist go to the pagoda because they don’t want the spirits of dead members of their family to come to seek offerings at pagodas in vain. It is believed that wondering spirits will go to look in seven different pagodas and if those spirits can not find their living relatives’ offering in any of those pagodas, they will curse them, because they cannot eat food offered by other people. When the living relatives offer the food to the spirit, the spirit will bless them with happiness.
That’s the reason, from September 13, Cambodians who are Buddhists prepare foods, and offerings to visit to far or near pagodas entire the country aiming to give those offerings to monks and dedicate it to their dead relatives wishing the dead members receive the offerings.
The first day of the religious festival is called Ben 1; the 14th day is called Ben 14, and the 15th day, which is the final day, is called Pchum Ben day marking the end of the festival, the time those dead members are order to return to the hell, and will come back another Pchum Ben next year.”
Extract from www.khmerbird.com

Offerings of food (Picture from here)
offering food (picture from here)
Photo from here

Please pray for the nation of Cambodia tomorrow as they celebrate the last day of the holiday of Pchum Ben. Pray that the Khmer Christians would have boldness to speak about the true light of the world.
Especially pray for a young lady in our church whose father died on Sunday as she has to go through the funeral and morning period for her father. No-one in her family is a Christian except her.

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