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What Do Buddhists Do When Someone Dies?

Buddhism doesn’t reference a supreme deity, so different denominations exist with slightly different funeral practices, but some are generally accepted.

 When someone dies, Buddhists leave the body to become cold because they believe that the soul doesn’t leave the body immediately. After about four to eight hours, they clean the body, place it in a casket, and invite a monk to chant Buddhist verses over it.

Buddhists believe that life and death are important. They emphasise living a good life to find peace in death. So what do Buddhists do when someone dies?

Buddhist Belief About Death

In Buddhism, the body is regarded as a vessel for the soul, and death is the end of the body but the beginning of the soul’s journey. The soul goes in search of a new body, which leads to rebirth. 

When a Buddhist is dying, friends and family members gather to pray and prepare the body and soul for a peaceful transition. Then, they invite a monk to chant verses encouraging the dying person to reflect on their good deeds and detach themselves from earthly attractions. This act is believed to free the soul once the person passes.

Buddhist Burial Practices

When a person takes their last breath, the family members leave the body to get cold before bathing it and placing it in a casket.

They dress the body in everyday clothes instead of fancy outfits because Buddhists believe in the simplicity of life. Also, they decorate the casket with flowers, incense, candles, and a picture of the deceased.

The family can cremate the body after three days, but some denominations do it seven days or one month after death. Although cremation is a Buddhism custom, a family can embalm and bury their deceased. The custom also permits autopsy and donation of organs.

Buddhists mourn for 100 days, but they hold memorial services on days seven and forty-nine. The family members may invite the Buddhist community or a few friends, and the ceremony may take place in a funeral home or the deceased’s home.

During the memorial service, the cremated remains or the casket is placed in front of the room. Guests should dress in white and appear sombre. They can also bring gifts like fruits and flowers.

A monk or family member prays and leads chants from the Buddhism scriptures. This reminds everyone that life isn’t permanent and that their deeds on Earth determine how their soul will reincarnate. If the family practices another religion alongside Buddhism, they can incorporate its custom into the funeral service.

Wrap up

Buddhism is a highly disciplined religion that teaches its members to do good while they’re alive because it determines their reincarnation. When someone dies, the family members cremate or bury the body and remind themselves of the impermanence of life through chants.