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Understanding the Different Types of Asian Funeral Traditions

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Death is an inevitability of life, and it is customary for different cultures to express their grief and honour their deceased loved ones in unique ways. Asian funeral traditions vary widely across different countries and communities. Each Asian culture has its own way of celebrating the end of life and showing respect to the deceased. Learn more about a few Asian funeral traditions.

Buddhist Funeral Traditions

Buddhism is a major religion in Southeast Asia, and a Buddhist funeral is a combination of religious and cultural rituals. The funeral process begins by preparing the body of the deceased in a white sheet. The family members typically dress in white and gather at the temple. Monks conduct the funeral rites, which include prayers, chanting and dedicating merits to the deceased. After the funeral, the surviving family members and friends are invited to pay their respects to the deceased through a memorial service.

Japanese Funeral Traditions

The death of an individual in Japan is considered a significant event, and there is a certain protocol to follow when it comes to funerals. When a person dies, the family traditionally places the deceased's picture on an altar. Visitors pay their respects to the deceased by bowing, clapping their hands and bowing again. During the funeral, the family members wear black clothes and give money in special envelopes as donations. After cremation, the family holds a memorial service called 'Kuyo' at the temple.

Chinese Funeral Traditions

Some Chinese funeral traditions are rooted in the belief of ancestor worship and filial piety. Before the funeral, family members present offerings to their ancestors and pay their respects to the deceased. The funeral procession includes mourners wearing white clothes and black hats and a large sedan chair draped in flowers. The funeral rituals vary depending on the person's age, status and the circumstances of their death. Burial is the most common practice, and families may hire feng shui consultants to select the grave's location and orientation.

Korean Funeral Traditions

Korean funeral rituals involve the participation of the entire community and last for several days. The body of the deceased is washed, dressed and laid in a casket. The funeral procession gathers at the deceased's residence or a funeral home, and a portrait of the deceased is placed on the altar. Guests pay their respects by bowing. After cremation, the family places the ashes in an urn called 'cheon' and keeps it at home or places it in columbarium.

In conclusion, Asian funeral traditions are diverse and unique, with each culture having its own way of honouring their loved ones and expressing their grief. These funeral traditions carry significant meaning and provide comfort to the bereaved families during the difficult time of losing a loved one. For more information about Asian funerals, reach out to a local funeral home.