Purses Open at Pagodas Despite Inflation Woes

Inflation has not kept Buddhists from offering generous donations to monks at Phnom Penh pagodas during this year’s 15-day Pchum Ben festival.

Monks and employees at local pagodas say people are actually donating more this year than last year, despite a spike in the cost of goods.

“Some families are willing to encounter difficulties during this time, but they will never miss [going] to [the] pagoda,” said Lim Roeun, abbot of the Piphoth Rangsey pagoda, north of Wat Phnom.

Pchum Ben is a festival to honor the dead, which Buddhists do by offering food, drinks, incense, candles and money to monks at pagodas throughout Cambodia.

Families come together to celebrate this festival, which falls between mid-September through early October, to honor their an­cestors and pass along traditions to future generations.

Some, such as layman Rus Thileng, who is co-director of the Ounalom Committee at Wat Ounalom, attribute the increase in donations to healthier in­comes resulting from successful businesses.

Others say worshippers are willing to pay beyond their means to ensure monks can afford inflated prices.

“While the inflation on the market [grows], laypeople also in­crease their donation in order for monks to be able to afford goods,” said layman Soth Sam, general affairs organizer at Wat Saravan, near the National Museum.

If people gave 500 riel last year, they are donating 1,000 riel this year, Soth Sam said.

Thlock Sarath, who brought fruit, drinks, sugar, tea and money to Wat Langka, said he and his family planned to go to three more pagodas Monday.

“I do not think this inflation could…prevent me from going to pagoda or decrease the materials that I have to take to pagoda,” he said.

Neither did Nhem Saran, 48, who visited Wat Saraven on Mon­day with her three daughters. Nhem Saran said she spent about $25 on offerings at each of the nine pagodas she visited during Pchum Ben.

“I really believe that my parents or relatives will get what I dedicate from this world,” she said.

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