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Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Significance Of Rites In A Buddhist's Funeral

Posted by patrick

By June Parks

The Buddhist religion is practiced the world over, the essense of which is derived from the basic teachings of the Buddha. Buddhism demands love & mercy for humankind, as well as fruition of the Ultimate Truth.

These basics of Buddhism can be seen in the rites practiced in a Buddhist funeral. When a person in a Buddhist family passes, there are certain mandatory rites to be followed, in order to make sure that the his or her soul gets promoted in the next life. Prayers are used to invoke the good energies of the deceased, ensuring his or her deliverance from this life and wishing them the best for their next.

The funeral rites start with giving the deceased a traditional wash. The next stage involves invitation of monks, who chant from religious texts and thereby assist the deceased in finding eternity. The monks recite those teachings of Lord Buddha that speak of the significance of practising compassion and kindness. Meanwhile, the body is made ready for the final journey. Friends and family usually place some coins in the casket of the deceased person. This is done to pay for the deceased's journey across the mythical River of Three Hells.

Then the friends and family pay their last respects to the deceased as the casket is placed at the altar. While friends and relatives give condolences, visitors are expected to offer prayers for the deceased. Monks who perform the rites continue to chant the appropriate sutras. Everyone present have to bow before the altar when this recital is completed. After the proceedings, the family members of the departed give out gifts to the attendees for sharing their grief.

The family members can decide upon whether to bury the body or cremate it according to their family beliefs, once all these essential rituals are completed. These rituals are meant to allow the family to alleviate their sorrow by offering prayers that will raise the deceased to a higher stage of enlightenment and knowledge.

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