Feeding the Hungry Ghosts

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Today we celebrate the Chung-Yuan Festival feast, we fed the Hungry Ghosts. In this 7th lunar month the dead ancestors are allowed to visit their living relatives.

Moggallana was one of the Buddha’s best students. He had various supernormal powers and “owned the divine eyes”. One day, he saw that his deceased mother had been born among hungry ghosts. He went down the Hell, filled a bowl with food to provide for his mother. Before reaching his mother’s month, the food turned into burning coals which couldn’t be eaten.

Moggallana cried sorrowfully and asked for help from Buddha. Buddha said the sins of his mother were deep and firmly rooted, it couldn’t be forgiven just using divine power, it required the combined power of a thousand monks to get rid of her sins. Buddha told Moggallana that, “the 15th day of the 7th lunar month is the Pavarana Day for the assembled monks of all directions. You should prepare an offering of clean basins full of hundreds of flavours and the five fruits, and other offerings of incense, oil, lamp, candles.

Following Buddha’s instructions, Moggallana’s mother obtained liberation from sufferings as a hungry host by receiving the power of the merit and virtue form the awesome spiritual power of assembled monks on 15th day of the 7th lunar month.

Today in Phnom Penh we had a feast, prepared and laid out. While we waited outside for the hungry ghosts to eat we burnt paper symbols of money, cars, rolex watches, passports, unlimited visa cards for our ancestors to use on their journey. After the ritual fire and paper offerings we ate a feast like no other.