A Look at Buddhist Funeral Traditions

buddhism pray ceremony

There are dozens of different spiritual belief systems, and nearly all of them have unique funeral traditions. Buddhists, for example, believe that death simply leads to rebirth. This belief in reincarnation carries over to the funeral preparations and customs. If you are tasked with planning the funeral of a friend or loved one who was a member of the Buddhist community, or if you are attending your first ever Buddhist funeral, here is a closer look at Buddhist funeral traditions.

Respect and Remembrance

After the body of the deceased has been cleaned, relatives and friends pour water over one hand of the departed in a bathing ceremony. The body is then placed in a casket and surrounded with wreaths, candles, and sticks of incense. Buddhists are typically not buried in fancy clothes, but rather in the everyday clothes that they would normally wear.


Many Buddhists choose to be cremated to free the soul from the body. However, because Buddhists believe that several stages of life continue for hours or days after the body dies, cremation does not take place immediately after death. Sometimes, the body is kept for a year or more in a special building at a temple as a sign of respect for the deceased.

Multiple Memorial Services 

Buddhists believe that as long as the body is present, the spirit can benefit from gifts and chants. While the body is waiting to be cremated, memorial services are held on the third, seventh, forty ninth, and hundredth day after death. After cremation, Buddhists believe that the spirit is cut off from our physical world. The living commemorate, honor, and celebrate the spirits that have moved on during “bon,” a special time of the year when ancestral spirits are through to return to visit relatives and friends.

Valley of the Temples Memorial Park in Oahu can help you plan a fitting farewell for your loved one. Our funeral planners have experience with numerous funeral traditions, including Buddhist, Chinese, Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish. Visit our website or call our memorial park at (808) 239-8811 to learn more about our funeral arrangements.