No matter what religious upbringing individuals have, sorrow is still a universal feeling when family members pass away. The faith system of a person should be able to help the individual in this time of sadness and also in coming to terms with the demise of a person dear to them.
Buddhism is one of the most popular religions practised extensively across the world. The basic principles of the religion are based on the teachings of Lord Buddha. The followers of Buddhism are expected to display unconditional love for all and try to realize the Ultimate Truth.
These basic tenets of Buddhism can be seen in the rituals followed in a Buddhist Funeral. After the death of a person in a Buddhist family, some rituals have to be practised in order to make sure that the departed soul rises to a higher stage of life after death. The positive energies of the deceased are evoked to pray and wish the best for the dead person’s life cycle beyond this birth.
The funeral rituals start with giving the dead person a traditional wash. Then comes the stage of chanting of religious texts by the monks, thereby directing the soul towards the path of spiritual freedom. The monks recite those teachings of the Buddha that talk about the importance of practising compassion and kindness. Meanwhile, the body is made ready for the final rites. The deceased is generally provided with some money put in his casket by the family. This is done to pay for the dead person’s journey across the mythical River of Three Hells.
Then the friends and relatives come and pay their last respects to the dead person as the casket is placed at the altar. While friends and relatives give condolences, attendees are expected to offer prayers for the deceased. The proceeding is accompanied with recitation of relevant sutras by the priests. Once the recital is over, people bow before the altar to pay their final regards. The family members then thank the attendees for shouldering their sorrow by giving them token gifts.
Once these rituals are carried out, the body may then be either buried or cremated according to the beliefs of the family. The different ceremonies are a means of bringing peace to the family of the departed as they know their prayers are directed towards elevating the status of the departed in his life after death.
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