The Buddhist Funeral – Transition from This Life into the Next

People who practice Buddhism see death as the transition from their present life into the next. Buddhists believe in reincarnation. Death is simply a passing from this world into next.  A Buddhist mourning is a shared occasion for meditation and prayers.

The tradition of the early Buddhists followed the Indian custom of burning the body at death. The example was set when the Buddha’s body was cremated at his death.

If the family suspects that death is near, they summon a Monk to the home to provide comfort. This is done by chanting verses such as:

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“Even the gorgeous royal chariots wear out, and indeed this body too wears out. But the teaching of goodness does not age; and so Goodness makes that known to the good ones.”

Monks - an integral part of a Buddhist Funeral

The monks accompany the family to the funeral. Family and friends give food and candles to the monks. The gifts symbolize goodwill and it is believed this helps the spirit of the deceased to linger, before moving on to its final resting place.

Common Practices

Many rituals accompany the death of a person in a Buddhist family. This is to make sure that the deceased soul will move on to the next stage of life. Rise to a higher stage in the afterlife.

They say prayers to invoke positive energy to deliver the person from this cycle of life and help them to transform to the next.

  1. After the person dies, there is a traditional bath of the body to start the Buddhist funeral rites.
  2. Next, the monks engage in chanting from religious texts to help the deceased on the journey to eternity.
  3. The monks then recite aloud Buddha's teachings, which highlight the importance of kindness and caring.
  4. The casket is placed at the altar and shown to family and friends, allowing them to pay their final respects to the deceased.
  5. After the monks conclude their chant, everyone present at the altar has to bow.
  6. After the proceedings, family members give gifts to those in attendance as a thank-you for sharing in their grief.
  7. Finally, the family has to decide whether the body will be cremated or buried.
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