Chinese Funeral Traditions

At any given moment, mortality can occur as each follower of Buddhism must be conscious of and ready for it. Existence holds immense significance, and the gift of being born as a human is invaluable. They emphasize the significance of seizing every instant, as it serves as a potent reminder of the teachings of Buddha and signifies the commencement of a new existence through reincarnation within the Chinese Buddhist society.

It is very important for a Buddhist to prepare for death by living in a kind and good manner. None of these can be carried over into the next life. Buddhists know that at the time of death, all power and fame vanish, and they feel that they own nothing. However, how and where a person is reborn depends on their actions, both bad and good, in life. Buddha’s teachings bring good luck in the new life and give one final thoughts. Buddhists are instructed to think about their holy writings when death is near.

After the person passes away, their body is placed inside a coffin and adorned with flowers, candles, and incense sticks. Colored lights are draped around the coffin, and if feasible, a picture of the individual is positioned nearby. In a post-death bathing ritual, loved ones and friends pour water over one hand of the deceased.

The monks are offered food to increase the importance of the deceased. In some cases, these holy men come to the house once or more times a day to chant prayers and honor the dead, or they may have to wait for distant relatives to arrive. Sometimes, the cremation is not carried out immediately, as they believe in several stages of life called bardos that continue for days or hours after the body dies. Many Buddhists have chosen cremation to free the soul from the death, since the time of Buddha.

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The spirit is released from the physical world through cremation. As long as the body is present, songs, speeches, and gifts can benefit the spirit. Ceremonies are held on the hundredth and fiftieth day after death, and also on the seventh day. These ceremonies allow time for religious rituals that will help the person in the afterlife and show respect. For a rich or famous person, their body is often kept in a special building at a temple for more than a year before cremation.

A container called an urn may be kept for the ashes later. The casket, beneath which wood and incense are burned, is then placed on a stack of bricks. Friends and family lit candles and tossed them, while singing prayers, as mourners lead the casket and sit facing it. During the service at the cemetery, monks are performing the last good deed for their loved ones, followed by a large number of relatives and friends who may be pulled in a funeral car or carried by pallbearers called guests. Next, a group of eight to ten monks holds a broad ribbon that extends behind them, followed by elderly men carrying flowers in silver bowls. On a long pole behind them, a man carries a white banner. On the day of the cremation, a man carrying a white banner on a long pole leads the walk to the cremation place.

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