Pchum Ben Festival 2023: 5 Things You Need to Know

Pchum Ben Festival 2023: 5 Things You Need to Know

As Cambodia’s leading cloud and hosting provider, 1Byte is thrilled to share insights about the upcoming Pchum Ben Festival 2023. This important Cambodian tradition holds immense cultural significance. In this article, 1Byte will guide you through five key aspects of Pchum Ben Festival, ensuring you have a comprehensive understanding of this cherished event. Join us on this journey as we explore the essence of Pchum Ben Festival and uncover the five essential things you need to know to fully embrace the festivities.

Meaning of Title

In the Khmer language, the title “Pchum Ben” carries a profound meaning. “Pchum” translates to “to gather together,” while “Ben” signifies “a ball of food.” This title embodies the essence of the festival, emphasizing the significance of family bonds and, particularly, the importance of parents.

The term “Pchum Ben” beautifully encapsulates the festival’s core tradition of offering food to both monks and ancestors. It serves as a powerful reminder of the values that Cambodian culture holds dear – unity, respect for elders, and the enduring connection between generations.

So, when you hear “Pchum Ben,” remember that it represents more than just a festival; it’s a heartfelt tribute to the cherished values that define Cambodian society and the deep reverence for family and heritage.

Date and Duration

The date and duration of Pchum Ben Festival play a pivotal role in this annual celebration in Cambodia. Falling on the 15th day of the 10th Khmer month, the festival this year commences on October 13th and ends on October 16th.

Contrasting with the previous year, 2022, when Pchum Ben took place from September 24th to September 27th, the 2023 dates represent a shift, emphasizing the dynamic nature of this festival. The festival’s timing isn’t fixed; it varies each year according to the lunar calendar, alternating between September and October.

The Specific Dates in 2023

  • The first 14 days of the festival are known as Kan Ben (observing festival)
  • The 15th day is the beginning of a three-day official holiday in Cambodia (Oct. 13 – Oct. 16)
Pchum Ben Festival
National Assembly President, Heng Samrin, his family and members of the National Assembly celebrated the Pchum Ben Festival on the morning of September 23th, 2022.

Understanding these date variations is essential for anyone planning to engage with the Pchum Ben Festival, ensuring they don’t miss out on this remarkable cultural and religious experience.


The significance of Pchum Ben Festival remains a constant and profound aspect of Cambodian culture. Year after year, Cambodian Buddhists hold to the belief that during this 15-day period, the souls of their ancestors are granted a brief release.

Pchum Ben Festival marks the beginning of the souls’ journey to purgatory, a critical transitional phase in the afterlife. What unfolds during this journey is shaped by the accumulated karma of the departed and the offerings made by their living relatives throughout the duration of Pchum Ben.

This understanding forms the heart of Pchum Ben’s significance, as it underscores the interconnectedness of the living and the deceased, emphasizing the role of compassion, remembrance, and spiritual reflection in Cambodian society.

Cultural Significance

The cultural significance of Pchum Ben Festival is a vibrant and enduring aspect of Cambodian heritage. During the festival, the atmosphere comes alive with a burst of colors as everyone dons their finest attire. Women, in particular, grace the occasion by wearing vibrant silk scarves, blouses, and dresses, adding to the festive atmosphere.

One of the central elements of the festival is the creation of special rice offerings known as ‘Bay Bens.’ These offerings symbolize respect and devotion to ancestors, further underscoring the festival’s cultural importance.


The traditions observed during Pchum Ben Festival hold great cultural significance in Cambodia. During this time, special foods are prepared and offered to monks as a means to generate merits that will benefit the deceased.

The initial 14 days, known as “Kan Ben,” are a time for families to come together at nearby pagodas. Here, they offer food and prayers to honor their ancestors, fostering a deep sense of familial connection and respect.

On the 15th day, called “Ben Thom,” families arrive with baskets filled with vibrant flowers. Children play a special role by offering sticky rice cakes to the monks. This day stands as the pinnacle of the festival, and it’s marked by everyone dressing up for the occasion.

These traditions not only pay homage to the past but also strengthen the bonds within Cambodian families and communities, making Pchum Ben a truly special and culturally enriching experience.

Public Participation

Pchum Ben Festival is a communal celebration where traditions come alive through attire and participation. Attendees traditionally wear white or black clothing during the festival, as these colors symbolize mourning in Cambodian culture. It’s a striking sight to see large crowds dressed in bright, new clothing as they make their way to pagodas and temples, bearing food offerings in line with age-old customs.

So, can you join in the festivities? The answer is yes. This festival is not exclusive; it’s a public event open to everyone, transcending age or religious beliefs. Communities unite during Pchum Ben, converging at their local pagodas to engage in festival activities, fostering a sense of togetherness and shared culture.

However, it’s worth noting that the majority of businesses typically close their doors during this time. Expect that major attractions like The Royal Palace or the National Museum may be unavailable, as the focus shifts to the heart of Cambodian traditions and communal spirit.