What to Do At a Funeral in Myanmar

Do and dont in a funeral in myanmar - Funeral ceremony of a Buddhist in Myanmar

If you witness a funeral on your trip to Myanmar, don’t worry. The funeral, regardless of being unexpected by everyone, it still goes along with the wedding celebration, reflecting Myanmar culture and custom. Managing to know the general information of rituals in a funeral in Myanmar will help you to get an understanding of the Burmese people. When a person dies the family receives condolence visits at home. On the third day, the body is interred or cremated. Previously, the deceased was laid at home before being conveyed to the cemetery.
Nowadays, the body is sent to the cold chamber at the cemetery and prepared only on the morning of the funeral. On the seventh morning, merit meal is offered to the monks and the merit that is accrued is shared.

Funeral ceremony of a Buddhist in Myanmar
Funeral ceremony of a Buddhist in Myanmar.

Send a Message or Visit

You may send a message of condolence, send a personal representative or bear the message yourself by visiting the home.
You may present a monetary token to the bereaved in an envelope. A family of your status may not be accepting money tokens. If the deceased is a business associate or a junior member of your company, the token will very likely be accepted.
No formal dress needs to be worn for the home visit. Daily business wears a shirt and necktie without a jacket would suffice. You will see many Myanmar men come to the home in shirtsleeves.

At The Cemetery

The body of the deceased will be laid out for the last viewing. You can arrive about a quarter hour before the time announced for the funeral. Funerals tend to take place punctually.
You may send a wreath if you wish.
According to the status of the deceased and your own, you may wear a jacket or necktie without jacket as you please.
When you arrive you will be given a fan printed in the name of the deceased and a small book with a sutta in Myanmar and Pali to remind people of the transience of life.
You will be offered a seat but you will find women sitting while the men stand around.
When the time is near, the body will be placed in the coffin, put on a gurney and wheeled to the incinerator or the burial plot as the case may be.
The coffin will be preceded by monks if invited, and people carrying the wreaths. It will be followed by family and close friends.
When the coffin has been wheeled into the incinerator ante-room and the door closed you may leave after wishing the family.
When it is a burial you may leave after some earth is thrown on the coffin in the grave. You don’t need to wait until it is wholly buried.

Seventh-day Offering

The fan given to you at the cemetery carries a general invitation to attend the offering of merit meal on the seventh day. It carries the address, date and time. However, people do not attend without a specific and particular request by the family. If you receive such an invitation you should go to. Your presence and partaking of the meal is your contribution to the creation of merit from which the deceased can benefit.
The time period for laymen is arranged not to coincide with the visit of monks for the meal so it is very likely that you will not be tied down by a sermon.