The greatest good you can do for another is not just to share your riches but to reveal to him his own. [ or hers :) ] ~Benjamin Disraeli ~

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Pchum Ben

It's been a long time since I wrote a blog. I had a busy few weeks, started to compose, then became ill with dengue fever - an unpleasant virus spread by a mosquito. For reliable medical treatment VSO volunteers have to go to Phnom Penh so I had a long journey. Since I slept, it passed quickly. Rest is the only cure so that is what I did combined with 2 weeks more language training. I am now fully recovered.

I was away from Sisophon for 3 weeks. On my return I travelled through a landscape vastly different from the one I experienced 6 months ago. Then it was dry and barren. Now it is lush and green. The rice fields that stretch as far as the eye can see are far more amazing when you consider that they were planted and are tended by hand. Where the rivers have spilled their banks the land is flooded, there is water everywhere.

There are many work related things I would like to share but today's blog is for my ancestors.

I was invited by my neighbours to join them at the Pagoda to celebrate Pchum Ben. This is celebrated every year and is a 15 day festival. It's the time when ancestors who have not passed to the afterlife are freed to roam the earth - but only in the dark. Last night the families, especially the children, were very excited as they prepared balls of sticky rice. Some of the children decorated their container with a candle and added sweets.
Armed with rice balls, water and incense, we set off at 4.00 this morning to walk to the Pagoda. Outside, street sellers were selling sticky rice balls. It's seen as a food the spirits like and can consume easily. At the Pagoda, incense burning, we knelt as the monks said prayers. Inside, the shrine was brightly lit with coloured lights and looked beautiful. Everyone then filed out and walked round the perimeter wall throwing rice balls over the wall, placing pieces on the wall and also throwing them into prepared receptacles. Street children huddled round these containers eying the rice hungrily - a very sad sight to see - or was it? I gave two small boys a ball of rice each and it was interesting that they did not eat them but threw them as everyone else was doing.
Selling Sticky Rice
Dah praying

So I returned to my house as the sun was rising. My neighbours lit stoves to prepare huge cauldrons of food. The actual holiday for Pchum Ben is next week when the college will completely close for 3 days.
Each day I learn a little more about khmer culture. To learn more yourself you can click this link.            About Pchum Ben Festival

1 comment:

  1. You have a wonderful experience, it is great to be with you on internet,the world indeed is becoming global village, what i have not dream of is taken place, which mean to say in next century the whole world problem will be solved all you have done are wonderful can you do more? if yes head for kogi state in Nigeria, the confluence city, to set a research project, thank you if you do.