Buddhist Funerals - Complete Guide

Buddhist Funerals – Complete Guide

Last updated on August 19th, 2023

Table of Contents

Buddhism, created by Siddhartha Gautama, also known as the Buddha, is one of the world’s main faiths. Buddhism originated in ancient India and has since spread throughout Asia and beyond, impacting millions of people via its teachings and ideas.

Buddhism is centred on the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path. The Four Noble Truths emphasise the presence of suffering (dukkha) in life, the causes of suffering, the cessation of suffering, and the road to suffering abolition. The principles of appropriate understanding, intention, speech, action, livelihood, effort, mindfulness, and concentration are all included in the Eightfold Path.

Buddhism places a high value on self-discovery, self-improvement, and enlightenment. It emphasises that through mindfulness, meditation, and ethical conduct, individuals have the potential to alter their life. Buddhism’s ultimate objective is enlightenment, or liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth (samsara).

Buddhism still inspires millions of followers today who seek spiritual progress, inner peace, and a way to alleviate suffering. Its teachings have had a profound impact on many elements of human life, including philosophy, psychology, ethics, art, and social values, making it a lively and influential religion that connects with individuals from all walks of life.

The Buddhist Overview on Death:

Death is regarded as a natural and unavoidable aspect of the life cycle in Buddhism. Buddhist teachings regarding death are founded on the concepts of impermanence (anicca) and rebirth (samsara). Here are some significant characteristics of Buddhist death beliefs:

Impermanence: Buddhism teaches that everything in the world is impermanent and prone to change. This includes life, which is regarded as a fleeting phenomena. Death is viewed as a natural passage as well as a chance for spiritual growth and emancipation.

Rebirth: Buddhism believes in rebirth, which is the idea that awareness lives on after death and is reincarnated in a new form. According to Buddhist teachings, an individual’s accumulated karma, or deeds and intentions, during their lifespan determines the precise conditions of reincarnation.

Karma: Karma is important in Buddhist ideas regarding death. It is believed that a person’s actions, ideas, and intentions determine their future rebirths. Positive activities result in favourable rebirths, whilst negative actions result in unfavourable or difficult rebirths.

Liberation from Samsara: The ultimate objective of Buddhism is to achieve liberation from the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth known as samsara. The route to freedom entails moral behaviour, knowledge cultivation, and awareness development through meditation. Enlightenment (nirvana) is viewed as deliverance from the cycle of sorrow and rebirth.

Buddhist communities engage in a variety of rites and practises to support the deceased and aid their journey in the afterlife. Prayers, chanting, meditation, and offerings are examples of rituals. The goal is to create positive karma and loving intentions in order to benefit the departed and smooth their passage.

The Significance of Six Samsaric Realms in Buddhism:

There is a belief in the Six Realms, also known as the Six Realms of Existence or the Six Samsaric Realms, within the Samsaric idea. These realms depict several states of existence into which people may be reborn based on their karma. The Six Realms are as follows:

The Deva Realm (God Realm): This represents a state of being in which beings experience enormous pleasure and plenty. Attachment to enjoyable experiences, on the other hand, can lead to complacency and a lack of spiritual advancement.

The Asura Realm (Titan Realm): This is associated with fierce competition, strife, and hostility. Beings in this dimension are continuously vying for power and are characterised by their unhappiness and envy.

Human Realm: The human realm is regarded as a valuable and unique domain since it provides opportunity for spiritual progress and emancipation. It is thought that human beings have the ability to grow wisdom and compassion and thereby break away from the cycle of Samsara.

Animal Realm: Ignorance and innate behaviour are associated with the animal realm. Beings in this dimension are motivated by fundamental survival impulses and lack the ability to reason logically or spiritually.

Preta Realm (Hungry Ghost Realm): This is populated by hungry ghosts with insatiable needs and desires. They have tremendous hunger, thirst, and unhappiness, and are unable to achieve satisfaction or fulfilment.

Naraka Realm (Hell Realm): The Naraka realm represents states of intense suffering and torment. Beings in this realm experience various forms of pain and anguish as a result of negative actions and harmful behaviors.

These realms are not seen as permanent or fixed destinations but rather as transitory states that individuals may pass through based on their karma. The ultimate goal in Buddhism is to transcend the cycle of Samsara and attain liberation from all realms of existence by attaining enlightenment and breaking free from the suffering inherent in the cycle of birth and death.

Buddhist Funerals:

In Buddhist funerals, the body is often cremated, symbolizing the impermanence and transformation of life. Family and friends gather to offer prayers, chants, and blessings, honoring the deceased and expressing their respect and love. The ceremony focuses on letting go and supporting the deceased’s spiritual journey.

Some Rituals Unique to Buddhism:

Buddhist funeral ceremonies differ according to cultural practises and regional traditions. Here are a few unusual traditions that may be observed at Buddhist funerals:

Water Pouring Ceremony: A water pouring ceremony is performed during the funeral in several Buddhist cultures. Pouring water from a vessel upon a sacred object represents the offering of merit and purification for the deceased.

White Cloth Ritual: During the funeral ceremony, a white cloth is draped over the corpse in various Buddhist traditions. This cloth represents purity and serves as a reminder of life’s transience.

Sky Burial: Sky burial is practised in certain Buddhist locations, such as sections of Tibet and Mongolia. The deceased’s body is carried to an open place and allowed to be devoured by vultures or other scavenging birds. This practise reflects the Buddhist belief on the ephemeral nature of the body and the life cycle.

Floating Lanterns: During burial ceremonies in various Buddhist cultures, floating lanterns are discharged into rivers or lakes. These lanterns, which are generally made of paper or bamboo, contain prayers and wishes for the deceased and represent the soul’s journey to the afterlife.

Earth Burial with Meditation: Earth burials are sometimes accompanied by meditation and mindfulness practises in Buddhist communities. Attendees are welcome to sit in silent meditation as the body is laid to rest, reflecting on the transience of life and offering intentions for the deceased’s spiritual journey.

Buddhist funerals may include processions in which family members and mourners accompany the body to the cremation or burial site. The procession can be a serious and symbolic show of support and collective remembrance for the deceased.

Buddhist Cremation Services:

Cremation is a prevalent practice in Buddhist funerals. It represents the belief in the impermanence of life and the transitory nature of existence. By cremating the body, Buddhists acknowledge the cycle of birth, death, and rebirth. It serves as a reminder of the ultimate goal of attaining liberation from the cycle of Samsara.

Buddhist funerals encompass special rituals to honor the deceased. These rituals may include offering flowers, incense, and food to the departed, as well as reciting sacred texts and performing ceremonial acts. Chanting of sutras and prayers by Buddhist monks and family members creates a spiritual atmosphere of reverence and support.

Mourning Period:

The mourning period in Buddhism varies depending on cultural practices and individual beliefs. It is a time for reflection, remembrance, and supporting the grieving family. During this period, family and friends offer condolences, engage in meditation or prayer, and provide emotional and practical support to those affected by the loss.


Finally, funeral services play an important role in our lives because they allow us to honour and say goodbye to our loved ones. We find peace in the midst of mourning via rituals, prayers, and acts of kindness, and we gather together as a community to support one another.

At this juncture, we would like to highlight Kaashimukthi funeral services. They exemplify compassion and respect by providing comprehensive support to families throughout their time of grief. Kaashimukthi guarantees that your loved one’s final journey is done with the utmost care and reverence, thanks to a profound grasp of Buddhist cultural traditions and a commitment to offering respectful and personalised funeral preparations. 

Also Read : Top 5 things to know about Jain Funerals


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