Pchum Ben Ceremony at Kururatth Khemararam New Delhi 2019 - KNT Diary

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Sunday, September 29, 2019

Pchum Ben Ceremony at Kururatth Khemararam New Delhi 2019


Royal Cambodian Embassy in New Delhi led by Ambassador Ung Sean and Her Excellency, Cambodian community in New Delhi and local Buddhist devotees delightedly attended the Pchum Ben ceremony (Ancestral Day) at Kururatth Khemararam (Wat Khmer New Delhi), Mehrauli, New Delhi, on 27 September 2019/2563.

Special to the event was the august presence of Mrs. Nilar Aung, Myanmar Ambassador’s wife and Mrs. Katemany Chouanghom, Laos Ambassodor’s wife in New Delhi, also board members of Indo-Khmer Theravada Buddhist Society of New Delhi such as grandma Keo Dhan, uncle Tarachand Mor, Mrs Vinod Tiwari and Mr Kaul Roni. 

The religious rituals that were led by venerable Preah Samanasansi Tep Vuthy, abbot of Wat Khmer New Delhi, were conducted in accordance with Khmer Buddhist tradition for the purpose of dedicating merit to the departed ones who might have been reborn in the displeased world or Peta realm.

About Pchum Ben (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia)


Pchum Ben or Ancestors' Day is a 15-day Cambodian religious festival, culminating in celebrations on the 15th day of the tenth month in the Khmer calendar, at the end of the Buddhist lent, Vassa. In 2013, the national holiday fell on 03, 04, 5 October in the Gregorian calendar, the 2015 season began on 23 September and ends on 12 October.

The day is a time when many Cambodians pay their respects to deceased relatives of up to 7 generations. Monks chant the suttas in Pali language overnight (continuously, without sleeping) in prelude to the gates of hell opening, an event that is presumed to occur once a year, and is linked to the cosmology of King Yama originating in the Pali Canon. During this period, the gates of hell are opened and ghosts of the dead (preta) are presumed to be especially active. In order to combat this, food-offerings are made to benefit them, some of these ghosts having the opportunity to end their period of purgation, whereas others are imagined to leave hell temporarily, to then return to endure more suffering; without much explanation, relatives who are not in hell (who are in heaven or otherwise reincarnated) are also generally imagined to benefit from the ceremonies.

In temples adhering to canonical protocol, the offering of food itself is made from the laypeople to the (living) Buddhist monks, thus generating "merit" that indirectly benefits the dead; however, in many temples, this is either accompanied by or superseded by food offerings that are imagined to directly transfer from the living to the dead, such as rice-balls thrown through the air, or rice thrown into an empty field. Anthropologist Satoru Kobayashi observed that these two models of merit-offering to the dead are in competition in rural Cambodia, with some temples preferring the greater canonicity of the former model, and others embracing the popular (if unorthodox) assumption that mortals can "feed" ghosts with physical food.

Pchum Ben is considered unique to Cambodia, however, there are merit-transference ceremonies that can be closely compared to it in Sri Lanka (i.e., offering food to the ghosts of the dead) and in its broad outlines, it even resembles the Taiwanese Ghost Festival (i.e., especially in its links to the notion of a calendrical opening of the gates of hell, King Yama, and so on).

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