Understanding Buddhist Funeral Customs

Posted on February 16, 2021 by American Heritage under Uncategorized
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pray for faith in BuddhismKeep in mind, between schools or traditions, there can be quite a variance between Buddhist funeral customs. For example, in Japan, Zen can differ greatly from Zen in Taiwan. For most Buddhist traditions, the following information is common practice. So, we would like to encourage you to reach out to a trusted and familiar spiritual advisor in the matter of your more personal experience regarding Buddhist services.

Buddhist funeral customs, from one country to the next, can be distinct. Some are dignified, solemn, and simple while others are traditional and extremely ritualistic. Regardless, when it comes to a Buddhist funeral, serenity and peace are hallmarks. An altar may be set up to display a portrait of the deceased along with fruit, flowers, incense, candles, and other offerings. Also, in front of the altar, and image of Buddha is placed to one side.

Attire and Tradition

With a traditional white cloth, the family at a standard Buddhist funeral usually covers their clothing or simply wears white. Additionally, an armband or headband may be worn.

Here are some other practices that may be part of the mourning process and/or the services:

  • The ringing of bells or gongs
  • Burning of incense, to sweeten the air
  • The brining of offerings of fruit or flowers
  • Singing or chanting of ritualistic prayers/sutras
  • Symbolism, to represent the grief that has left them in need of support, walk with stick
  • Alms giving or giving offerings
  • Preaching
  • From a vessel, pour water into an overflowing up
  • On behalf of the deceased, offer cloth to the presiding monk

Officiate for Buddhist Funeral?

A funeral service maybe presided over by monks, according to custom. They will perform Buddhist rights and deliver a sermon. If monks are not available, another representative will step in.

Cremation and More

Though cremation is the predominant tradition, burial is sometimes a viable alternative. Before the casket is sealed, last rites will be administered by a monk, if present. As a final act of service, the lifting of the casket may be assisted by family members, similar to the use of pall bearers. During this time, a moment of respectable silence will be observed. Family members, during the funeral procession, may walk behind the hearse. To the family, attendees should send good thoughts and contemplate life’s impermanence.

A Quick Guide to A Buddhist Funeral

To wrap up, here is a quick guide for easy reference:

  • Cremation? Yes, preferred.
  • Enbalming? Acceptable.
  • Number of days involved in the mourning? 90
  • Days within which to return to work? Nothing specific.
  • Open casket? Absolutely.
  • Readings sources? Sutras.
  • Are recording devices allowed? No.
  • Dress code for women and men? Casual and dark.
  • Is food included? No.
  • Are flowers allowed? Yes, yellow or white.
  • Service length? Anywhere from 45 minutes to 75 minutes.
  • What about organ or body donation? This is up to individual preference but is always valued as an act of compassion.

Count on American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory For Your Religious Service

We handle funeral services for any and every religion and/or walk of life. Buddhist funeral services are just one of many we are capable, ready, and willing to assist you with. Let American Heritage Cemetery Funeral Home Crematory craft a service that honors your beliefs and those of the departed – as well as their wishes.

Quickly and easily, you can contact us today through our online form. Consider pre-planning a religious final ceremony for yourself or a loved one.