Buddhist funeral services follow a Buddhist tradition that emphasizes peace and serenity in their final moments. Although traditional funerals can vary, most funerals generally include a memorial service, laying of hands, and an elaborate altar to remember their deceased loved one. Traditional Buddhist practices and customs include: Laying of Hands: Laying of hands symbolizes the mutual understanding between the funeral home director and the deceased.
Chanting: Often referred to as Bhai Dooj, Buddhist funeral services are accompanied by chanting. The funeral warden reads verses of particular scriptures from the sutras, or books of religious wisdom, to the assembled mourners. The music is also played. Sometimes, Buddhist funeral services use flowers, candles, or both.
Flower Ceremony: In the United States, some states have laws allowing families to use funeral flowers and plant trees instead of flowers. However, not all states recognize this. In some states, the use of flowers is restricted to specific religions, like Buddhism. While most Buddhist funerals do not use funeral flowers, they are sometimes used in Zen Buddhist funerals.
Wreaths: Frequently used in Buddhist funerals, are made of flowers or plants and placed over the casket during a Buddhist service. They are hung in homes or Temples and sometimes displayed outside of the church or funeral home. For many years, the wreath was an essential part of Buddhist funeral services because it was believed to symbolize the tree of life (Tibetan) and the Bodhisattva (a protector). The wreath was then decorated with the evergreen batch, which is the prayer of the monk.
Monastery Laws: Although many Buddhist teachings are written in Sanskrit, the religion has had a long history of building monasteries. The primary purpose of these buildings was for monks to live. Monastery laws are different than those of other religions and can vary widely. The most important things to note about Buddhist funeral services are that they are conducted according to a set schedule and that family member are excluded from most traditions.
Rites: All Buddhist funerals follow a short set of rituals. They are based on the teachings of Buddha and are carried out to honor and remember Buddha and his teachings. Some essential Buddhist rites include funeral and burial, which is called dhamma.
What is Nirvana? Nirvana is considered the ultimate goal of all Buddhist funeral services. This is the state of consciousness that eventually results in the separation of the soul from the body. It is a spiritual realm beyond time and death and was described by Buddha. When you attend a Buddhist service, you will likely hear a monk speak about Nirvana. Still, family members need to understand that the deceased never really attained Nirvana.
The above-described traditions are just a few of the many that are followed in Buddhist funerals. Regardless of what you choose to bring to your Buddhist memorial service, there are many things to consider when choosing a tradition. There are also different types of Buddhist traditions to consider when conducting a service. One key aspect of all Buddhist traditions is the importance of organ donation at the service. Organ donations have been a part of Buddhist ceremonies since the fifth century.
In the United States, the most popular type of Buddhist funeral services includes burial and organ donation. Many cremation services follow the same practices as those used in other funeral traditions. However, most cremation homes do not allow burial on the same premises as other funeral services. As a result, cremation remains must be brought to the home to be cremated.
Wearing white clothes is very common at most Buddhist funeral services. Wearing white can be difficult for some mourners since they are accustomed to wearing black or some other brightly colored clothing during the day. If possible, it is always nice to know that the deceased has a favorite cloth to wear at their funeral.
Several different Buddhist beliefs are included in the Buddhist funeral service. Each religion has its ceremonies and traditions to follow. It would help to examine your Buddhist beliefs before deciding how to officiate a Buddhist funeral or attend one of these funerals. The deceased may have wanted all of these things to happen, but their death was not necessarily due to their Buddhist beliefs. What they wanted in their afterlife may not align with how Buddhist practitioners live their lives in this lifetime.