Segments in this Video

Chhoga Death Ritual: Overview (01:05)


See a description of the journey of the consciousness after death. It faces three tests, or Bardos, determining whether it reaches Buddhahood or returns to Earth.

Immediately after Death (02:29)

The phaspun, a group of neighbors and relatives, gathers to prepare a cremation oven. An astrologer attends the body and a monk performs a ceremony to return the spirit to the corpse and guide it to Buddha Amitabha's paradise.

Reciting the Bardo Todrol (02:22)

Monks chant from the Tibetan Book of the Dead to guide the deceased person through the Bardos to a favorable rebirth. The body is wrapped in a shroud in the fetal position with food offerings to accompany it on the journey.

Powa Transference Ceremony (05:32)

Monks chant the small drum-Kham song as they protect the consciousness from demons. They beseech bodhisattvas to descend to help the deceased migrate across the three Bardo states. Hear descriptions of this process from various authors.

Phaspun Support (02:39)

Friends and relatives bring tea, beer, bread, and money to the deceased's home. Women sing dirges, men drink beer, and the body lies in a separate room. The family feeds monks and provides them with sleeping quarters.

Zombie Threat (03:50)

Tibetans believe demons cause death; exorcism may be required to avoid rolangs, or zombies. Monks and family members pray and make offerings to keep harmful spirits away. Astrologers determine the demon responsible; a ceremony keeps demons from returning to the home.

Funeral Procession (04:13)

Friends and relatives bring logs for the funeral pyre. Monks and mourners walk from the deceased's home to a cremation area outside the village.

Preparing for Cremation (03:42)

Mourners and relatives circle the oven and prostrate themselves three times. Most return to the village while phaspun members conduct the fire ceremony to purify the deceased of sins and sufferings. The astrologer recites a last prayer over dough figures.

Cremation Process (03:29)

Phaspun members transfer the body from the bier to the oven and light the fire. Guests are served outside the deceased's house while relatives and phaspun may enter. Monks auction the deceased's personal items; proceeds go to the monastery.

Post-Cremation Bone Ceremonies (03:01)

Monks and phaspun take the first burned bone to the deceased's house. After four days, phaspun remove ashes and throw them into a river. Monks produce small clay figures containing ground bone that are kept in a pure place. They purify the deceased’s consciousness.

Footnotes (14:12)

See Machin's references from various authors and researchers.

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Ladakh Funeral

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This program by anthropologist Barrie Machin documents a funeral in Ladakh, India.

Length: 47 minutes

Item#: BVL192067

ISBN: 978-1-64867-350-4

Copyright date: ©1986

Closed Captioned

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