Death Rituals in Buddhist Culture

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There are many rituals in the Buddhist culture, but there was one that caught my attention. Death rituals are considered the most important ritual in the Buddhist culture. Many of the rituals are lost but many are still practiced today. When a person passes on, they would need to reach nirvana to continue their cycle of life. Concentrated in Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand, this derived Buddhist culture believes that a person might not have reached the intended enlightenment to carry on the cycle and someone from their immediate family can help them reach nirvana. To do so, they must become a monk and special requirements are made to ensure the family member will help the passing of nirvana correctly. I will explore the delicate steps into becoming a monk and sharing my personal experience of giving offerings to a deceased family member.

Many families have different requirements for choosing the right monk for their family. Some families will only want their sons to carry the tradition and some will only choose their daughters, but typically the son will do the offering. The body of the deceased must be cremated at a temple and your offering must be made there. The person undergoing this procedure must shave off all their hair and eye brows. This is symbolic to becoming a traditional monk and a sense of simplicity. You cannot eat the entire day and the monks choose how long the offering will last. It can last from a day to a week and during that time you’re not allowed to eat. During the offering, the monks will undress you and you’re not allowed to do it yourself. They will then put on a special white robe that represents purity and rebirth. You are not allowed to touch the robe or take it off because your hands are too dirty for something so pure and monks are only allowed to do so. You will continue the offering by giving food to the specified alter for your family. As you give these offerings, you are to chant a verse. The chanting can last anywhere from an...
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