Pagodas throughout the country are busy preparing for visitors for the first day of Pchum Ben today and are focusing on ensuring public order.
Vin Phearith, chief monk at Tonle Bit pagoda in Tboung Khmum province, said his pagoda has set up a committee to handle security issues for Pchum Ben.
“Many people come to the pagoda to offer food to remember their ancestors,” he noted. “Snatch thieves take the opportunity to steal from worshippers due to the large crowd and we are getting security guards.”
Mom Chandany, director of the Phnom Penh social affairs department, said that authorities always prepare to ensure public order in pagodas during Pchum Ben.
She said as part of security arrangements, the department has also told beggars not to disturb people inside the pagodas and is providing food to them at specified spots.
“The beggars are very poor, and during this period they come to the pagodas to get food,” she noted. “We told them not to disturb worshippers or commit crimes in the pagodas.”
Sambo Manara, a history professor at the Royal University of Phnom Penh, said the first day of Pchum Ben is today.
“Khmers are Buddhist and are taught to respect their ancestors, parents, elders and teachers,” he said. “On this day, they go home to be with their relatives and offer food to their parents and to monks in pagodas.”
According to a Ministry of Cults and Religion report, there are more than 5,000 pagodas across the country and more than 50,000 monks in them.
Pchum Ben, or Ancestors Day, is a 15-day religious festival during which many pay their respects to ancestors, parents and elders.