What's in a Funeral?

Chinese Buddhist Funeral Traditions

Something I found interesting about Chinese Buddhist funeral customs is that the funeral was carried out differently depending on the age and social status of the deceased. It is important to remember that China is a very large place where there are thousands of different customs that the citizens practice. These traditions from the Chinese Buddhists vary from area to area in China.

In Chinese Buddhist culture, they follow very strict hierarchical structures where the young must show extreme respect for their elders. That being said, when a child dies the parents do not go and pray for their deceased child. If you do not have any children of your own there will not be a ceremony to celebrate your life. This is because no elder will ever show respect for a child.

For elders, the funeral that is held for the deceased depends on the age and status of the person who has passed. Like in some other cultures the funeral starts to be prepared before the actual death. They prepare in advance a bit because it has such a large financial toll on the children of the person who passes.

An important bit about Chinese funeral ceremonies is that they last 49 days. Funeral Wise put an article up about Chinese funeral customs and says that the first 7 days are the most important of the funeral ceremony. They tell us that the Chinese custom is to take mirrors down from their home and to cover statues with red paper. At the entrance to the house, there must be a gong placed, on the left of the entrance for a deceased male and on the right of the entrance for a deceased female.

Before the body is to be put into the casket it is cleaned and then sprinkled with talcum powder to preserve the body. The family dresses the body in their best clothing and then burns the rest of their garb. (Funeral Wise)

Every 10 days after the death they have a prayer ceremony. Children are expected to not cut their hair until 49 days after the death has occurred. The deceased cannot be dressed in red and none of the mourners are allowed to wear any sort of red in their apparel. It is thought that if red is present at the ceremony that the dead will become a ghost. (Funeral Wise)

A gravestone plaque must be put outside of the house of the deceased so that on the 7thday of mourning that the soul will be able to find its way home. On the 7thday the family members have to stay in the rooms of their house and sprinkle the hallwayswith talcum powder so that they can tell if the deceased has returned to the home for the last time. (Funeral Wise)

 

Resources

Funeral Wise editors. Chinese Funeral Rituals [Web log post]. Retrieved June 13, 2018, from

https://www.funeralwise.com/customs/chinese/

 

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