Buddhist funeral beliefs and traditions

What are Buddhist funeral beliefs about death?

The religion of Buddhism has different denominations, but the primary teachings and beliefs stay common between them all. As per the Buddhists, when a person passes away, he/she begins a transition into a new form of existence that depends on the actions performed in an earlier life. This cycle of birth and rebirth is known as Samsara, and the ultimate goal is to achieve an absolute state of bliss, Nirvana.

For the living, funerals are more than a farewell to the deceased, they are a reminder of the Buddhist teachings on the temporary nature of human existence. They see funerals as an opportunity to assist the deceased person in their transition.

What are the Buddhist Funeral Traditions?

When a Buddhist is going to pass away, the family sits close to the dying person and help him/her become calm and peaceful. They are reminded of how all their good deeds will help them in their next life.

Monks and families continuously read chants and prayers so that the dying person peacefully travels to their next life form.

After demise has occurred the beloved’s body is not moved or touched because it is believed that it takes a few hours for the spirit to depart from the body. Once the body is cold, it is cleansed for the last rites and dressed in casual clothes.

In the case of personal preference, organ donation is accepted in the faith of Buddhism.

Coming to the funeral practices, a wake may be held where the mourners pay respect to the deceased. Near the casket, a photograph is displayed where the offerings of fruit and flowers are made. Many Buddhist funeral services will light up incense and put up an image of Buddha for a more spiritual experience.

Following the wake, the last rites are conducted, preferably through cremation. Verses are chanted, and monks are invited to conduct the ceremony. The collected ashes may be kept in an urn or scattered in the sea by the family.

Mourners generally wear white to show their grief and respect. It is advised to dress simply and avoid jewelry and other accessories. Subtle colors are more respectful.

The inclusion of a reception ceremony depends on the wishes and choices of the deceased. Many Buddhist Funeral Services arrange for all the rituals and traditions so that the mourning families can get some peace.