Culture of Burma - Funerals


Burmese funerals typically last a week, with the body traditionally buried or cremated on the third day. Burial is common, but cremation, more common in the cities, is also practiced by orthodox Buddhists and monks in Burma. A coin, called gadaw ga (ကန်တော့ခ) is placed in the mouth of the deceased person, to pay a "ferry toll" for crossing death. Before the actual interment of the body, an offering of turmeric-coated rice is given to appease the bhummazo (ဘုမ္မစိုး), the guardian deity of the earth. During the actual funeral, gifts in the form of paper fans containing the deceased person's name, as well as Buddhist scriptures relating to the impermanence of life (anicca) and samsara are distributed to all attendees. In urban areas, flower wreaths and florals are typically given at a funeral, as well as money, for less well-to-do families. However, in villages, more practical gifts such as food items are given to the grieving family. For seven days, the windows and doors of the house in which the person died may be left open, in order to let the deceased person's consciousness or "spirit", called leippya (လိပ်ပြာ, lit. "butterfly") leave the home, and a vigil may be kept at nighttime. On the seventh day, called yet le (ရက်လည်), a meal is offered to monks, who in turn recite blessings, protective parittas and transfer merit to the deceased, concluded with a Buddhist water libation ceremony.

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