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Mongolian practice of burial

-Where to place the dead? How to respect the dead?
-What is the reason Buddhist monks do not like to let the catholic priests or christian pastors to visit the family of the dead?
People who are very strict Mongolian traditionalists, let the special person called “yaschin” (bone man) to enter first to fix the body of the dead for burial. They prohibit to let others (outsiders or strangers) enter into the room or place (could be morgue) where the dead is placed. The reason that they prohibit is if they let anybody enter he or she will be possessed with infamy which comes from the corpse to others. That is why even the close ones, friends, relatives are prohibited to enter. According to Mongolian tradition one should refrain entering or visiting the dead or even the woman who gave birth recently. In this case, it is very different than the Europeans’, particularly the Christians’ practice. If the Mongolian man enters into the room of the dead he wears his hat turned back and folds his lapel and sleeves inversely.

The monks and ordinary people should offer prayers for the dead instead of entering or visiting and grieve from a distance through doing charity because the corpse is considered as infamy and demonic. They should even refrain crying for the dead because the tears will become an ocean that can cause trouble in the future life of the dead. Usually the Buddhist monks do not enter into the room of the dead or even do not attend the funeral. Only certain monks such as jarz luujinch, jodji are allowed to attend the funeral. Nowadays European practice is widespread and people are seemingly visiting the burial by group like attending the celebration during the socialist period. Therefore, today, we bury our dead ones just the same with Russian traditions.

Urban people of these days, like students, employees, professionals, leaders, intellectuals who have European education attend the funeral personally or individually. They stand to show respect to the dead by surrounding it. In the province or in the countryside, Mongolian herders are still practicing the traditional way of grieving or mourning from distance through the actions of special yaschin and jodji monk (corpse to be wrapped in white cloth and put at the open hill of a mountain) by offering prayers as well as charity works like visiting or feeding the poor and the needy. During the Socialist era this way of practice was considered as dark and rude, so it was required to bury people in the cemetery.

The buddhist monks and some Mongolian families avoid bringing local and foreign catholic priests/sisters and christian pastors to the cemetery, because it might cause missionaries’ impurity.
Maybe the ancient people and countryside people had sensitive body and mind; and were easily affected. I do not know if it is true. Science has not proven that the dead causes infamy and we have to avoid coming near by. Even though burial is a common practice of human beings, for the Christians, it is a genuine respect to be there physically. For the Mongolian lamas, they prefer to do charity from a distance for the sake of the future as showing genuine respect. When Mongolian shamans bury the dead they show their mourning beside the corpse by crying, yelling, pulling out own hair, and bury the dead in a sitting position. So we cannot say which one must be right or wrong.

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1 Response for “Mongolian practice of burial”

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