Pchum Ben: a Unique Religious Celebration, says British Ambassador Williams

British Ambassador Dominic Williams during an interview with Cambodianess News. Photo: ThmeyThmey News

PHNOM PENH — British Ambassador Dominic Williams first learned about Pchum Ben from his Khmer-language teacher in Great Britain as he was getting ready to come to Cambodia.

“Pchum Ben is a really special national religious festival of the Cambodians,” he said during an interview on Oct. 4. “Pchum Ben is the time to commemorate the ancestors,” Williams said. “When we know about our family history, we also get to know ourselves better.”

In Cambodia, Williams has learned more about this celebration from the monks at the pagoda near the British Embassy, he said. During Pchum Ben, which is the longest public holiday of the year as it lasts 15 days in October, people gather at their pagodas, bringing food for the monks, and praying for their relatives no longer here as well as their ancestors. The first 14 days of Pchum Ben are called ‘Kan Ben Days.’ The biggest celebrations are held on the 15th day of the festival.

Since there will be heavy traffic on the roads as people will be travelling to their home towns and villages for Pchum Ben, Williams said that he hopes people will drive safely.

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