What do people do when someone dies? (Thai forest/EBTs)


I’ve heard bits and bobs of practices that are done after a death. Chanting something or other? Something about sharing merit? I know no specifics. I would like to know what kind of practices are done after someone dies. Ideally, answers related to EBTs would be great. But anything related to Thai forest tradition customs would be splendid, too.

Obviously it depends on the tradition, but check out Thai funeral - Wikipedia

The Mahaparanibbana Sutta includes some details of the Buddha’s funeral too.


In terms of the ceremony, in Cambodia many mornings there can be heard loud wailing music which signifies a funeral. In other words funerals are broadcast publicly to keep awareness of the cycle of birth and death.


Depends on the monastery and also the cultural makeup of the congregants, but where I live we often do funeral chanting or protective (paritta) chanting. You can find several in this chanting book from Abhayagiri Monastery. They’re a combination of verses found in the suttas and one’s created by the traditions.

The funeral chanting ends with this lovely verse, which we often slow down to almost a whisper (and which we see in a number of suttas like SN15.20):

Oh, how impermanent conditions are,
Aniccā vata saṅkhārā,

their nature is to rise and fall;

having arisen, they cease;
Uppajjitvā nirujjhanti,

their stilling is true bliss.”
tesaṃ vūpasamo sukho”ti.


I knew about that chanting book, but didn’t think to check it. Thank you for reminding me!

Do you (or anyone else who reads this) know which chants are usually used when a person has just died? (so before the funeral)

In Thailand there are a lot of one- or two-line Pali phrases that are recited during the laying out of the body and the preparation of it for the “rod nam” ceremony, where mourners come and pour lustral water over one of the deceased’s hands. As in Islam, the procedure is quite ritualistically elaborate and each stage in the proceedings is done to the accompaniment of some liturgical formula.

For example, when combing the deceased’s hair, you have one Pali verse for asking his permission, a second (about anattā) to be recited while you’re doing the combing, a third for when you break the comb in half and a fourth for when you toss the two halves of the broken comb into the coffin.

The link below is the most detailed description I can find. It’s in Thai I’m afraid, but the gist of it should survive the quirks and vagaries of Google Translate.