January 4, 2023
BANGKOK – Devotees of these spooky rites lie in open coffins with flowers and incense sticks clasped between their wai-ing hands, resembling corpses as they enter the crematorium.
Buddhist monks then chant prayers over the coffins while those inside devote the merit made to their deceased family members. Once the ceremony is completed, participants consider themselves reborn and freed from bad luck, ready to start their new year afresh.
Each round of the coffin-lying ceremony takes about 20 minutes and the temple can handle up to 12 rounds per day. After each ceremony, the coffins are cleaned and disinfected to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
The temple charges no fee for the ceremony, instead leaving it up to participants to donate as much as they like.
A temple staffer told The Nation that the aim of lying in a coffin is not only to remove bad luck but also a reminder of the truth that no one escapes death. Participants in the ceremony are inspired to live their life prudently and discretely.
Death-mimicking ceremonies to dispel bad luck are common to Buddhist cultures across Asia, including in Thailand, China, Tibet, and Japan.
However, the practices differ from place to place.
In some Thai-Chinese communities, instead of using a coffin, a grave will be dug and filled with belongings of the person who wants their luck to be cleansed. Chinese Buddhists also believe that this ceremony helps prolong the participant’s lifespan.