Pchum Ben: Remembering the Dead

Pchum Ben (Ancestor’s Day), a Cambodian Buddhist festival, began today. It will conclude 15 days from now with a big celebration across the country. During Pchum Ben, Cambodians pay their respects to deceased relatives through food offerings to (living) Buddhist monks. The food offerings generate “merit”, which is then transferred to the dead.

We took a tuk-tuk to a nearby wat called Phnom Sor. Phnom Sor is a sprawling property with many buildings, ponds and scupltures. In the wat were beautiful tongs suspended from the cieling.

Below are two examples of tongs.

You will have seen from our posts that pagoda walls are covered with bright depictions of the Buddha’s life. According to legends about Buddha’s birth, the baby walked seven steps. At each step a lotus flower appeared on the ground.

Here are two depictions of the seven steps. The paintings are done by different artists (from different pagodas) and give you a sense of both the colors in the paintings as well as the variety of painting style.

We walked around the property and were joined by about a dozen small children. They were intrigued by Ida and Saga and we are getting used to the chorus of “hellos” that greet and follow us wherever we go. Some adults try to touch the girls. While this is quite common, it is taking some time for the girls to get used to. When I asked Ida what stood out from the trip to the pagoda today, she replied (quite accurately): “me! I stood out!”

When we’d had enough of standing out at the Phnom Sor Wat we moved on to visit another temple on a nearby hill. Kampot grows a lot of rice and the landscape is very flat. But from time to time there are big hills that jut out of the ground.

We headed for this hill:

And proceeded to climb it:

We got close to the top where there was a nice breeze and view:

As we got close to the top we turned around. Probably good in future to wear sturdier hiking footwear.

Upon our return we ate a feast of battered fried eggplant, mixed veggies and battered fried green peppercorns (look on the plate to the left of the eggplant medallions):

The peppercorns came from a nearby plantation and are delicious. And while it’s true that all things battered and fried are good, it is especially true for green peppercorns.


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