Cambodians appease ‘hungry ghosts’ as Pchum Ben festival begins

Cambodians on Wednesday visited pagodas to mark the start of one of the country’s most important Buddhist festivals – Pchum Ben, also known as Ancestors Festival or Hungry Ghosts Festival.

Over 15 days, people visit pagodas to light candles, pray and leave offerings of money and food such as rice and fruit, to appease the souls of their dead relatives (or hungry ghosts).

Many believe their ancestors may be looking for them at the pagodas over this fortnight.

“During this period, the gates of hell are believed to be opened and the manes (spirits) of the ancestors are presumed to be especially active,” said Cambodia’s tourism ministry.

During the festival, which runs to Oct. 6 this year, many Cambodians also return to their home provinces to be with family.

In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, the government has issued preventive measures to be followed at pagodas, including the wearing of face masks, temperature checks, the sanitizing of hands, and social distancing.

A visual story by Mak Remissa and Kith Serey

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