A Thai Funeral


Chai died yesterday. His guitar, laptop, and other possessions were stacked in the corner of his home ready to be collected by the monks. It would be an act of merit, tamboon, to donate them to the wat.

We went over to the temple in the morning, lit an incense stick, and placed it with all the others beside the coffin. Then we joined the rest of his family and friends who were seated round. Chatting about anything that comes to mind, but no reference is made of the death.

How Thais treat a Death

Buddhist belief is that death is a natural part of the lifecycle. No crying or weeping. It’s always a shock to the system for us foreigners when we see how Thais react to death and funerals. I understand it now but it took some getting used to.

If the deceased is laid to rest at home; fans, air conditioning, and jars full of scented flowers and herbs can give off a pleasant perfume. Our friend’s body lay in a refrigerated cabinet because it was at the temple and the building could become quite hot at times. In the summer months particularly refrigerated cabinets are used regularly.

His friends pay their last respects

A mini-bus will come tonight with his work colleagues so that they can pay their respects and be with the family. They will not be able to go the cremation service as it would leave the office empty. Everyone wants to go but realises it is not possible. His boss and two senior staff will attend. Ironic really, because Chai did not get on with his boss.

A pity that tradition could not have been changed so that two or three of his closest work mates could have taken the place of the top brass.



MattOwensRees writer on Thai culture and lifestyle

I am a published author on Thai events and how Thais actually live under feudalism. My books are available in eBook and print format. I also publish on Substack