Thursday, March 24, 2016

Kochi Life Q&A: When an Acquaintance has Passed Away

   Today, we will give an example of the progression from when you hear that an acquaintance has died, through the end of a Buddhist funeral. (Be aware that there are differences depending on religion, denomination, and regional customs.)

What is a tsuya ?
   This is a ritual to provide support for the deceased person’s soul. In the past, it was only the people who were closest to the deceased who participated, but these days it is not uncommon for people who can’t attend the funeral or farewell service to attend the tsuya instead. When you arrive at the venue, you will hand over a gift of condolence money at the reception desk. (If you plan to attend the funeral or cremation service, you can bring the condolence money then instead.) When the ritual begins, the Buddhist priest will read aloud from a sutra, and then the deceased’s family members and friends will “offer incense” (shoukou). The ceremony takes about one hour.
 
What is shoukou? How do I do it?
   Pick up a pinch of incense with your fingers, raise it up to about the level of your forehead and pray, then place the incense in the incense burner while rubbing it between your fingers. The incense will drive out any evil spirits, so that you are praying for the deceased’s happiness with a pure mind and body. Depending on the school of Buddhism, you do this one to three times.

What are funeral services and farewell services?
   At a funeral service the family and friends pray for the deceased to rest peacefully, and a farewell service is the final parting of the deceased and his/her loved ones. They occur one or more days after the tsuya. After the priest chants a sutra and the participants offer incense, the coffin is carried out and the ceremony is finished.

Other Etiquette
   Attire should be a black suit with a black unpatterned tie for men, and a black suit or dress for women. It’s common for women to wear pearls, which resemble tears, but be sure to choose a simple string of pearls of a length to match the circumference of your collar. Avoid very long strings or doubled strings of pearls, which suggest that more unhappy events will follow or that the sadness will be long-lasting.

Information about wrapping up the condolence money is explained in one of our back issues (English only).
http://tosawave.blogspot.jp/2012/08/gifts-for-ceremonial-occasions.html

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