If you are grieving the loss of a loved one or expecting to participate in a Buddhist ceremony, Cosmopolitan Funeral Services is here to help.
Although Buddhism is practiced worldwide, funeral customs differ from country to country. This brief guide will cover basic Buddhist funeral traditions and answer the following:
- What Is a Buddhist Funeral?
- What Should You Expect During a Buddhist Funeral?
- What Is the Etiquette for a Buddhist Funeral?
- What Happens After a Buddhist Funeral?
As there are several schools of Buddhism, there is no single answer to these queries. However, anyone looking for answers should find this summary helpful.
What is a Buddhist Funeral?
A Buddhist funeral is a means to liberate the deceased from samsara, the cycle of death and rebirth, thus achieving nirvana. The funeral is also an opportunity for the living to express their grief and to pay their respects.
An altar with flowers and incense will be set up, along with an image of the deceased.
Buddhist Funerals typically take place at home. They can also occur in a funeral parlour or a Buddhist temple. The service can be held either before or after burial.
Buddhists are typically members of a community. As such, Monks may be present to chant sutras and offer prayers.
What Should You Expect During a Buddhist Funeral?
Most Buddhists choose cremation. However, burial is acceptable. While embalming is discouraged in Buddhism, organ transplants are permitted.
A monk or minister will officiate the funeral rites, which may include eulogies, prayers, and sutras. The family may choose to conduct the ceremony if no officials are present.
Monks will chant. In some cases, mourners will play chant recordings instead.
What Is the Etiquette for a Buddhist Funeral?
It is important to respect traditions and etiquette when attending a Buddhist funeral.
Here are a few points to consider:
Arrival: The bereaved are usually seated near the altar in front. Each mourner pays their respects at the altar, offering a flower or candle. It is customary for everyone to bow their heads and place their hands in the prayer position when doing so.
Participants need not offer condolences at this time. The eulogies commence once mourners have paid their respects.
Dress Code: Family members usually dress in white. However, if you are a guest, subdued colours are appropriate. Loose clothing may be more comfortable for sitting, standing, and kneeling. Jewellery is permitted, but consider removing showy items.
Duration: Buddhist funerals are simple affairs. There is no set time frame. The ceremony length depends on the family’s preference but usually lasts forty-five minutes to an hour.
Gifts: Do not expect to bring anything with you. If you wish to send flowers, we recommend white. But please make sure they arrive before the service.
What Happens After a Buddhist Funeral?
Families have the option of hosting a wake. This casual gathering is where people can pay their respects and share memories.
Mourners will again set up an altar with a portrait of the deceased, a Buddha statue, incense, fruit, and candles. A wake is not required, but it is a nice way for the family to connect with friends and loved ones during this difficult time.
Buddhist mourning lasts 49 days, with Buddhist prayers for the dead held every seven days. For the next 100 days, mourning families refrain from participating in celebratory activities. On the 100th day, they celebrate to commemorate the person’s successful passing.
These dates are not set in stone and may be adjusted to fit the family’s needs and schedule.
Cosmopolitan Funeral Services: Buddhist Funeral Directors
At Cosmopolitan Funerals, we understand culturally significant funeral practices. We can help you plan a memorable send-off that celebrates the life of your loved one.
There is no set ritual for Buddhist funerals since Buddhism is so diverse. However, some common traditions need observing. Our knowledgeable staff will help you create a personalised funeral ceremony honouring and respecting your loved one.
We are here to help you get through this tough time. We can help you make the appropriate arrangements.
If you have any questions or want more information about Buddhist funerals, please don’t hesitate to contact us.