Friday, June 9, 2017

Cambodian Buddhist Tradition of the Dead Body

Cambodia is a Buddhist country. In Buddhist culture, it is tradition to cremate the dead body. After death, the body is kept in the home in a closed coffin for two to four days. Lucky paper is burnt at the foot of the coffin. When the monks visit the body for a chanting ritual, the coffin is opened so the spirit can listen, but the face remains covered with a white cloth. After 2-4 days, the body is taken to the Buddhist temple (pagoda) for cremation. At the pagoda, the body is exposed for a farewell look, but the face remains covered. The body is cremated at the pagoda, the ashes are placed in an urn, and the urn is placed in a stupa on the pagoda’s property or sometimes at home. A white flag is displayed outside the family’s house for one week, and children of the deceased shave their heads and dress in white.

Phirum's stuppa

On Sunday, May 7th, after preaching at a fast-growing church plant in Phnom Penh city, my aunt (Phirum’s mother) and I rode in a taxi to Kompong Som province (140 miles, 4 hours drive) where Phirum’s wife and son live. We spent Monday morning at Phirum’s stuppa. Phirum’s wife asked me to burn incense - a gesture of paying one’s highest respects to Buddha or as an offering to Buddha for His blessing. I told her that I am a Christian, so she lit the incense on my behalf and placed the sticks in an incense pot. Phirum’s mother cried throughout our entire visit. She was quiet except for talking to the picture of her son displayed behind his urn.

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” 
John 11:25-26 

This is one of the reasons why we go back to Cambodia, we want the Cambodian people, who are living in the darkness of Satan's deceptions, to know and understand that religious belief cannot save them from their sins. God's grace alone can save them from their sins.

We are grateful to be called sons and daughters of the Living God! We know that one day we will see Him face to face.

To see Christ glorified in Cambodia,
Titus, Jewel, Sophear, & Chamnab

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