SIMILARITIES BETWEEN CAMBODIAN PCHUM BEN AND MALAYA PAKSHA (Post No.5483)

RESEARCH ARTICLE WRITTEN by London Swaminathan
swami_48@yahoo.com
Date: 28 September 2018

 

Time uploaded in London – 7-46 AM (British Summer Time)

 

Post No. 5483

 

Pictures shown here are taken from Deccan Chronicle.

 

MALAYA PAKSHA IN CAMBODIA

My research shows that the Cambodian Ancestor Festival Pchum Ben is nothing but the Hindu ancestor ritual Malaya Paksha. The following points will prove my point.

 

What is Pchum Ben?

It is a period to pay food offerings to the dead ancestors. It is the period to remember and venerate them. It is a public holiday in Cambodia.

 

What is Malaya Paksha?

It is a period to remeber and pay oblations to ancestor sand get their blessings. Hindus do it in the month of Bhadrapatha (Purattasi in Tamil)

Now let us look at the similarities:

 

1.A fortnight period is common among Hindus and Cambodian Buddhists. Malaya Paksha means Malaya fortnight. It starts on a full moon day and finishes on a new moon day. That new moon is called Mahalaya Amavasya. A very important day for orthodox Hindus.

2.It is celebrated in the month of Bhadrapatha and the Cambodians call it Potrbotr (bhadrapatha). Potrbotr is the corrupted form of the Sanskrit month.

 

3.Hindus offer rice balls (Pindam) to the dead. Cambodians also offer rice balls. Pindam is even used in 2000 year old Tamil Sangam literature

4.Hindus always mention seven generations of ancestors. Cambodians also say they offer food for seven generations during this period. Te word seven generation is found in the Vedic literature and Tamil Veda Tirukkural.

 

5.Cambodians believe that the Gates of Hell are opened and then the Ghosts come to earth, particularly to their relatives. But Hindus never use ghosts for the dead. They elevate them to divine status and call them Pitrus. But the similarity is their visit to earth during this period. It is always easy to see a Prime Minister or President when he visits our town and present a memo. In the same way Hindus and Buddhists believe the dead ancestors visit earth during this fortnight. So it is easy to get their blessings.

 

6.Hindu priests recite mantras in Sanskrit during the ceremony. Buddhist priests recite Pali Suttas (Suktas). Pali is nothing but colloquial Sanskrit. Buddha used this spoken form to attract laymen.Dharma is changed to dhamma, sukta to sutta in Pali.

 

7.Cambodian Buddists also believe in Hindu Yama, god of death, and talk about Yama loka during this festival

 

8.Cambodians never miss a visit to pagoda during this period to offer food to Bikshus or someone there. Orthodox Hindus never miss the ceremony during this Paksha

 

The similarities between the Hindus and Buddhists of Cambodia is confirmed by another factor. Cambodians celebrate two festivals without a miss. Both are holidays. The other one is April 14 which is a New Year Day for the whole of South East Asia and India. From Kathmand to Kandy, several communities in the Northern Hemisphere celebrate this day.

 

All these point out to the Hindu influence in S E Asia and they are Buddhacised in course of time.

 

Other Buddhist countries like Sri Lanka also offer rice balls (Pindam)to ancestors during such festivals but at different period in a year.

Hindus consider two New Moon days ( Ashada and Pausa) important to ancestor

worship in addition to this Mahalaya New Moon Day in Bhadrapada which corresponds to September/October every year.

 

–subham–