Spent All Day at A Buddhist Funeral

Two members of Phai’s family on her mother’s side died one day apart in a small village out side of Kon Kean. One was older and husband of a cousin of Phai’s and the other was only 34 years old. They are not sure what happened to the younger one. He was not feeling well, went to the doctors and got a shot. The next morning they found him in the bathroom floor dead. He had hit his head when he fell but they do not know if that is what killed him or perhaps a stroke or heart attack. In Thailand, they do not autopsies unless there is strong evidence of foul play. 

It was more than two hours in the truck each way. As soon as we arrived the family in Kon Kean greeted us with food. After we all ate we visited the two homes of the deceased. The bodies are kept in refrigerated caskets in the home for about a week before being taken to the Temple for cremation. Tents, tables, sound systems and more food are set up outside the house for the duration between the death and the cremation. I was welcomed by all and I heard the words “Hello” and “Farang” (pronounced Fa-Long) many times. Farang basically means western foreigner and Hello is the only English most of the villagers know. It was very hot and being a funeral I wore long black pants and a dark shirt. Because I was not sure about the safety of some of the ice being used I drank a lot very warm soda. As you will see by the pictures below there was then a funeral procession to the cremation site (about 2 miles). Most walked but we all rode in the truck behind the walkers. At the cremation site there was about 1 ½ hours of ceremony including the monks chanting and the lead monk making a speech. Finally the body is ready for cremation. As the casket is pushed into the crematorium candy and coins are thrown to the crowd from the steps of the crematorium and everyone scrambles to get some (adult and kids alike). Fireworks are also set off. I think it is a nice distraction from what is happening to the body. Also some of the deceased’s belongings in a pile behind the crematorium and also light on fire. Then it is time to head back to the village, more food and finally the long drive back to hour village. It was dark when we got back and I was exhausted which is why there was not an update to this blog yesterday. I slept from 8pm until 7 am this morning. Today I am taking it easy. It was the older gentlemen’s cremation yesterday and today will be the younger relative. Thank goodness we do not have to back for that. It was funny that one woman came and sat next to me at one of the homes and asked in Thai if I could find her a farang husband (Phai interpreted). I guess she liked me because she then asked if would be interested in having an additional Thai wife. I told he no, that I already have the number one Thai woman for my wife. Phai was happy with my response. 

Today I followed up on the camera system I am going to install. I had sent a request for specs on the power adapter three days ago which had not been responded to so today I called their toll free support via Skype. They were helpful and what I will do now is take the box with me to some places where my son in law says we should be able to buy adapters, show them the specs and what the connector looks like and hope for the best. In doing my research I also discovered a very neat service called ReShip. You can sign up for a one time fee of $5 and they give you a U.S. address in Oregon. You can purchase from anywhere in the United States, use that as your shipping address (you are given a unique Suite number at that street address) and they will then forward the package anywhere in the world with proper paperwork for a fee plus shipping. So I can purchase from Amazon, Ebay, Sears, Sam’s Club, etc. and have the goods delivered to me here in Thailand. That may prove to be invaluable. They can even consolidate purchases so you can purchase from multiple places and they will hold the goods until all arrive and package them together to ship internationally. If you are interested you can view the information at www.reship.com. Also, because Oregon has no sales tax you do not pay sales tax on your purchases. 

Oh, I almost forgot, Phai’s daughter in law is back from the hospital and has not given birth. We will just have to be patient waiting for our next granddaughter.

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We stopped at this roadside stand and Phai bought all those barbecued fish to help feed the family when we arrived for the funeral. As an extra bonus, she found several of them were full of eggs and she said were delicious. 

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Phai and her sister pay their respects in front of the casket of the young relative. This is inside his house.


When it is time to go to the crematorium the monks lead the procession.


The monks all are linked together by string leading back to the casket. The little guy almost couldn’t reach the string.


The casket is on the back of the truck and family and friends all walk behind.


It was about a two mile walk down this dirt road. The umbrellas are due to hot sun, not rain.


The crematorium 


After being dosed with accelerant the casket is pushed in to be burned.

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Most people got rides back to the village.

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Back at Phai’s cousins house I enjoyed the cute kids.

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There was a green chicken and red chicken running around but they were camera shy.

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