Cremation and Buddhism

100_0370The traditional practice of Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority religion in Cambodia, is to cremate the dead body. In an article on burial practices in Cambodia, Rosemary Shewry writes, “After death the body is kept in the home in a closed coffin for three days, on a block of ice and with copious tea leaves (frequently replaced) to freshen the atmosphere. Lucky paper is burnt at the foot of the coffin. The coffin is opened (so the spirit can listen) when monks visit to chant but the face remains covered with a white cloth. On the third day the body is removed to the temple (pagoda) for cremation, the body is exposed for a farewell look and the cloth covering the face is retained for good fortune. A white flag is displayed outside the house during this period and children of the deceased shave their heads and dress in white. Cremation is usually carried out in the temple and the ashes placed in an urn. The urn is placed in a stupa (also called achedi) in the pagoda grounds or within the pagoda itself” (Aspects of Burial and Cremation in Vietnam and Cambodia).

Here is a thoughtful blog post by R. Scott Clark about cremation and burial and the Christian implications to think about: To Bury or Cremate.

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