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Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Importance Of Buddhist Funeral Rituals

Posted by patrick

By Marian Wong

One of the most widely practised religions in the world, Buddhism derives its main principles from the preaching of the Buddha. Buddhism teaches mercy and love for mankind and realization of the Ultimate Truth.

Buddhist funeral rites also rely on these basic principles of the religion. When death occurs in a Buddhist family, there are some basic rites which are practised with the objective of ensuring that the deceased's soul can ascend to an elevated stage. Prayers are made invoking the positive energies associated with the dead person for his or her ultimate deliverance from this cycle of life.

The first stage in funeral rites is that of giving a traditional wash to the body. Buddhist monks read out from religious scriptures, which are believed to give the soul the correct guidance to attain spiritual freedom. The monks read out those sermons of Lord Buddha that talk about the significance of practising mercy and kindness. Meanwhile, the body is made ready for the final rituals. Friends and family usually place some money in the casket of the dead person. This is for helping the deceased to pay and wade across the River of Three Hells.

The casket is then placed before the altar at home for the loved ones to pay their final respects. While friends and relatives give condolences, attendees are expected to pray for the deceased. The ceremony is accompanied with chanting of relevant sutras by the priests. Everyone present have to bow at the altar when this recital is completed. The family members then thank the visitors for sharing their sorrow by giving them token gifts.

Once these rites are completed, the family can decide to cremate or bury the deceased according to their family beliefs. The different ceremonies are a way of bringing peace and acceptance to the family members 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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