What to Expect At Buddhist Funeral Services

July 28, 2021 -

Are you planning to attend a Buddhist funeral?Or do you simply want to know about Buddhist funeral services?

You have come to the right place!! Buddhist believes and funeral services are different from other religions. Buddhist believe in the cycle of life or reincarnation (samsara). Hence, Buddhist funeral services and rituals are performed to help the deceased in their future life.

Here is a brief guide to what to expect at a Buddhist funeral.

1. After Death

After death, the body is not touched until 3 to 8 hours. It is believed that the soul does not depart immediately and takes at least 3 hours to depart. After 3 hours, the body is cleaned and dressed in clean everyday clothes. All this should be done with extreme care to help with reincarnation.

2. Cremation or Burial

Cremation and burial both are allowed in Buddhist believes but cremation is the preferred choice because Buddha was cremated. After cremation, the remains are collected the next day. The remains can be scattered, buried, or contained according to the wishes of the deceased’s family.

In Buddhist burial, the mourners carry the casket to the hearse with other mourners following. If monks are present, they chant otherwise family members can do so. The chanting continues until the burial completes.

3. The Funeral Ceremony

There is no fixed time for a funeral ceremony it can be held before the cremation or burial or after the cremation or burial. The ceremony is traditionally held at the monastery or the deceased’s family home. Monks are invited to lead the funeral ceremony. The casket is placed at the altar and family members sit on cushions making sure they are not above the altar or monks.

4.  The Altar

The altar consists of a Buddha symbol and a black and white picture of the deceased. The offerings of mourners are placed around the casket. There may also be some fruits, flowers, candles, and incense at the altar.

5. The Chants

The chants are regularly made by monks during the funeral and the mourners are also expected to follow. However, if you are unable to do so, you can sit quietly. These chants are carefully selected from a large number of chants, prayers, and readings by the deceased’s family members. The purpose of these chants should be to help the deceased in his or her after death journey and not just for the sake of tradition.

6. What to do?

The mourners should walk quietly towards the altar and pay their tribute to the deceased by bowing down and folding hands in the front as prayer position. You may also pause while inclined in front of the casket to pay respect to the deceased.

After that, mourners are expected to find a seat and follow the monks. They should stand if the monks stand and sit when the monks sit. Mourners can also join the monks in chanting and if they can’t, they are expected to sit quietly.

7. What to Wear?

The dress code for Buddhist funeral services is simple. Family members wear white dresses and mourners can wear black or dark clothing. Jewelry or flashy clothing is considered a display of wealth and should not be worn.

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