Buddhism is one of the most popular religions practised across the globe. The basic principles of the religion have been derived from the teachings of Lord Buddha. Buddhism entails quest for the Ultimate Truth and also a spirit of compassion and true love for every creature.
Buddhist funeral rites are also based upon these fundamental tenets of the religion. When someone dies in a Buddhist family, there are some basic rites which are followed with the aim of ensuring that the soul of the departed can ascend to an elevated level. The positive energies of the dead are evoked to pray and wish the best for the dead person’s next life beyond this birth.
The funeral rituals start with giving the dead person a traditional ablution. After that comes the stage of chanting of religious texts by the priests, thereby directing the soul towards the path of spiritual liberation. The teachings of the Buddha, which speak of the value of goodness and compassion in daily life, are recited aloud. Meanwhile, the body is prepared for the final rites. Friends and family members often keep some money in the casket of the dead person. This is for enabling the dead person to pay and wade across the River of Three Hells.
The casket is then placed before the altar in the house for the loved ones to pay their final respects. The relatives and friends offer condolences to the dead person’s family, while the attendees pray for his soul. Priests who carry out the rituals continue to recite the appropriate sutras. After the chanting is over, people present at the ceremony bow at the altar. After the proceedings, the family members of the departed distribute gifts to the visitors for sharing their grief.
Once these rituals are over, the family can decide to cremate or bury the deceased based on their family beliefs. In all, the rituals try to bring a sense of peace and acceptance to the bereaved family while praying to promote the departed to a higher stage of knowledge and realization.