If you have never been to an Asian funeral service before, the whole experience can be quite foreign. There are a lot of rituals and customs that are carried out during the service, and it is easy to feel like you are not sure what you should be doing.
To help you feel a little more comfortable, here is a short guide to some of the most common rituals that are carried out during Asian funeral services.
The Burning of Joss Paper
One of the most common rituals carried out during Asian funeral services is the burning of joss paper, also known as ghost money. Joss paper is traditionally made from bamboo or rice, and it is burned as an offering to the deceased. The money is thought to provide financial assistance to the deceased in the afterlife.
You can purchase joss paper from any Asian grocery store, and it is usually burned in an outdoor area near the funeral pyre or grave site. If you are attending an Asian funeral service, it is considered proper etiquette to bring a small offering of joss paper to burn.
The Viewing of the Body
Another common ritual that takes place during Asian funeral services is the viewing of the body. In some cases, only immediate family members will view the body prior to cremation or burial. In other cases, all attendees at the funeral service will be invited to view the body as a way of paying their final respects.
When viewing the body, it is considered proper etiquette to bow while saying a silent prayer for the deceased. You may also want t leave a small offering, such as flowers or joss paper, at the foot of the casket before you leave.
In Asian cultures, chanting is often an important part of funerary rites. The act of chanting helps to create a sense of community and to honour the deceased. It also helps to focus the mind and to bring comfort to the mourners attending the funeral. Chanting can be done in a group or individually, and it can be accompanied by music or other sounds. The words that are chanted may be in a language that is unfamiliar to the participants, but the meaning is often felt more deeply than you can understand intellectually. For many, chanting during a funeral is a way of connecting with something larger than themselves and honouring the cycle of life and death.
For more advice, contact a funeral service today.