Dara and his mother outside the Pagoda in Sen Sok
Last month the Connect2: Cambodia community in Samrong Mean Chey, along with other Cambodians across the country celebrated Kan Ben and Pchum Ben Festival. This festival, which is celebrated from generation to generation, is the most important traditional festival in Cambodia’s religious calendar. The ceremony from 9 – 22 September 2014 is called Kan Ben and the last day of the festival, 23 September 2014, is called Pchum Ben.
Each year, throughout the country, Cambodians are given 3 days off during the festival. This is to allow them time to travel to their hometowns, to go to pagodas (temples) where they offer food to monks, and dedicate this to their relatives who have passed away. The offering of food is one of the oldest and most common rituals of Buddhism. Pagodas are usually crowded with people taking their turn to make offerings, and monks praying. After presenting their offerings, many people remain in the temple to listen to Buddhist sermons.
In Samrong Mean Chey, the Connect2 community also take part in these celebrations, and go to pagodas to offer the monks food and other gifts. On Pchum Ben Day, Dara, (pictured with his mother), explains that his whole family got up very early in the morning; together they cooked rice and food and then went to Khmuonh and Sen Sok Pagoda to offer the monks food, and incense.
Speaking about the festival, Dara says:
“Kan Ben and Pchum Ben is the practice of Cambodian traditional customs. These customs and traditions make Cambodia a distinct nation in the world”.
For more information about Connect2: Cambodia and to how your parish can sign up, visit: cafod.org.uk/connect2cambodia