Tuesday, December 22, 2009

By June Parks

The core of Buddhist religion, practiced in many nations the world over, comes from the basic teachings of the Buddha. Mercy and love for humanity and recognition of the Ultimate truth are required in Buddhism.

These teachings of Buddhism can be seen in the rites practiced in a Buddhist funeral. Certain mandatory rituals should be observed once a person in a Buddhist family passes away, to make sure that their soul gets elevated to a higher level in their next lifetime. To make sure the deceased's deliverance from this life and bidding them the best for their next, prayers are said to invoke the positive energies of the dead.

A traditional bath to the body marks the start of the Buddhist funeral rituals. The next stage entails presence of monks, who read out religious texts and thereby help the dead in finding liberation. The monks recite those sermons of the Buddha that speak of the importance of practising mercy and kindness. The body is meanwhile made ready for the final rituals. The deceased is normally provided with some money put in his casket by the family members. This is for helping the dead person to pay and wade across the River of Three Hells.

Afterwards, the casket is displayed to the family and friends to enable them to pay their final respects by putting it at the altar. The relatives and friends offer condolences to the deceased's family, while the attendees pray for his soul. Monks who carry out the rites continue to recite the appropriate sutras. The attendees present have to bow at the altar when this chanting is over. The family members then thank the attendees for sharing their sorrow by giving them token gifts.

The family can decide upon whether to bury the body or cremate it according to their familial customs, once all these important rituals are over. The different ceremonies are a way of bringing peace to the family of the departed as they know their prayer offerings are directed towards elevating the status of the departed in his after life.

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