Pchum Ben in a pandemic

Pchum Ben is a fifteen-day religious celebration, the Khmer equivalent of All Souls Day for Christians. After thousands of people flocked to the pagodas initially–and the Covid-19 infection rate shot up, the government suspended all ceremonies. Four or five people at a time were allowed into special areas set up at the gates of the pagodas, as seen in this photo from a week ago.

Yesterday was a different story. It was the last day of the holiday and people jammed up at the pagodas. At least they’re wearing masks. Everyone is waiting now to see what those who traveled to the provinces to commemorate with their relatives bring back with them. A surge in Covid-19 infections is expected.