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Buddhist Funeral Essay

936 words - 4 pages

Buddhist Death Rituals
Death and what comes after death have intrigued the human race since time immemorial and each religion has its own views concerning death rituals. No matter what culture an individual belongs to, death is an inevitable reality of life that nobody can escape. An eminent anthropologist described death as “the supreme and final crisis of life” (Malinowski, qtd. in Tsuji). Each human being’s dying experience is distinctive to him or her, and no one can fully predict what it will be like or when it will come about. However, when this moment does come to pass, spiritual leaders or funeral directors are often called upon to provide professional and suitable services, as well ...view middle of the document...

Children, relatives and friends of the departed participate in the service by chanting together with the monk. Buddhists believe that soon after death, a person can still be subtly aware of what is going on. Therefore, to help a Buddhist pass away peacefully without pain and the craving for life, his relatives and friends are requested to chant the sutras instead of crying before and at his death. Different Buddhist traditions have slightly different funeral rituals and practices. However, most of the rituals and practices consist of the chanting of sutras to help the deceased pass away peacefully and to be reborn in a happy state. These rituals and practices are to be simple, meaningful and also solemn. Buddhists are not very particular regarding the burial or cremation of a dead body. But in many Buddhist countries, for hygienic and economic reasons, cremation is customary. After the cremation, the bones and ashes are collected and kept in an urn. The urn can be placed in a columbarium. Usually the remains are kept in a temple because; chanting is often carried out by the monks to transfer the merits to the departed ones. More rituals continue every seven days until the forty-ninth day after death, and again on the one-hundredth day. Then the series of periodic rituals succeeds at the first, third, seventh, thirteenth and fiftieth death anniversaries. The ritual on the forty-ninth day after death is “a turning point” (Smith, qtd.in Wada) when the spirit of the newly deceased, which is believed to have been in limbo with this world and the other world, enters the realm of the dead and becomes a new Buddha. Hence, the forty-ninth day ceremony is more elaborate and has more attendees then other weekly...

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