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  1. #1
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    customs of death...

    i have a friend i work w/ who is thai. she is trying to explain the customs in thailand for having to visit graves of people who have passed. but, she's confusing me & i find she is contradicting herself. so, i'm asking for you all to help me out w/ understanding it. she says in her culture that she has to visit her mothers grave on the anniversary of her death. since her vacation was denied last year, she says she has to go now because she will be disowned from family over there if she doesn't go back. but, she's telling others that if she doesn't go this year, she can't go back for another 7 years. which is it?she's told everyone that she's going no matter what. now that her vacation has been denied again, she's changed her mind about going and now is down-playing the customs for this situation. i've asked her to explain it to me, but she's still contradicting what she's said in the past. i'm just curious as to what is the true customs for having to visit relatives who have passed on. please help if you can. thank!!

  2. #2
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    Re: customs of death...

    The way I understand it is that the anniversary of death is observed, We will have a party this year, but I know no Thai that has a grave as everyone I know believes in cremation.
    some, the ashes are kept in a concrete structure and it is kept on the WAT grounds, some are kept at home and my mother in law keeps fathers ashes in an URN in the house.

  3. #3
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    Re: customs of death...

    It's actually called 'Tham Boon' (making merit) on behalf of a parent that has died. In accordance to custom it's usually yearly, but thats flexible depending if she is of Thai/Chinese/Lao/Lanna/Khmer etc... origin

    On the other hand though, if she is on the other side of the world - i think the other family members would certainly understand if she cant show up! As it is called 'to make merit' it would be possible i decipher, to make merit at a temple in the US.

    Personally, i dont believe this story at all - that her family will dis-own her! As for that story about 'cant go back for 7 years' - sounds like she just made it up. Perhaps, since you are a foreigner, she thinks she can make up any old stuff about Thai culture and you are supposed to believe it (AKA: Naive Caucasian)

    Thai traditions are very flexible, very little is actually fixed.

    Yes, she is contradicting herself - hate to say it, but definetly reads like she is lying to you.
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  4. #4
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    Re: customs of death...

    Last year after my wife's nephew died we went back to Thailand to "Tham Boon Roy Wun",which was 100 days after his death.
    On a different note we are returning to Thailand this time and will "Tham Boon Baan".

  5. #5
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    Re: customs of death...

    thanks for your help. i figured she was trying to use her "customs" to get what she wants. to prove it, she has now come in saying her brother has died and that she has to leave asap. from what i've read, funerals last one week? is this correct? well, she's got almost 7 weeks off now. i feel for her with losing her brother. but, it looks like she got her denied vacation after all! again, thanks for your responses!!

  6. #6
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    Re: customs of death...

    There are varies in custom of death in Thailand and it depends on many things. Thai-chinese especially old generation prefers to be buried instead of cremation. Also depends on how close of the person to the one who passed, normally if it is a person in the family you are definitely expected to be in the funeral. But in case that she is outside Thailand it may be understandable by the family.
    Also there is no definite number of days for the funeral depends on how old, how wellknown of the person or the family is. Some keep remain 100 days some keep 1 years then cremate. "Tam boon" is later or on any occasion I would say. As Steve said Thai traditions is very flexible.
    For Thais who have Chinese blood and still follow some Chinese traditions, to go back to the graveyard is some family gathering that is very important to them. Once a year if I'm not wrong there is a day that family member go to graveyard. (Locate in special selected, good feng-shui location mostly in Chonburi.) To clean the graveyard and to "wai" ,pay respect to family's member who passed.
    These are just for your information, I can not tell for sure what she is doing. But just wondering what kind of company she is working for. Normally they are not so intersted in personal reason if someone want to take leave. (if it is still within her entitled number of course.)

  7. #7
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    Re: customs of death...

    PLAK, If you want to see about what a Thai funeral is then click the fotki link in my sig and open the funeral album, that is the one we had for my wifes father, and I have never heard of a body being kept in the reefer for 100 days or years, that would have to be the correct embalming and even frozen, here they just have a refrigerated glass top coffin for a short time use, never seen a funeral over a week, ours was 5 days because he was born on a Friday so we had to wait until Saturday to cremate.

  8. #8
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    Re: customs of death...

    She can make merit at any thai temple in the us and she won't get disown by her family.

  9. #9
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    Re: customs of death...

    FYI, Formalene is normally used to preserve remain. Refrigerate coffin is too advanced for normal Thai. In general body tend to cremated after the funeral.(For most Thai-buddhist.) But some do still keep remain for longer period before cremate.
    For example my granmother body was kept in cement block in the temple 100 days before she was cremated. I can not remember the reason already why, that was too long ago. My brother since he was only 9 when he died so we only had one week religion blessing (funeral) and cremated after that. My granfather was cremated after 15 days funeral (Suad a pi tham). So number of days is depends on many things.

  10. #10
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    Re: customs of death...

    There is no way that a body will not start to deteriorate after a short time in this heat, even under refrigeration and a glass top reefer box for the coffin is used by all here..
    Embalming helps but is not complete preservation by any means, hell I don't know where you are from, but I do know what goes on in Central Thailand.

    And even embalmed a body starts to go, just look at that Anne Smith, her body could not be shown after a week or so and with $400 million dollars in her account I do not think that they cheaped out.

    I could find nothing for formalene, but did find this.I have never heard of formalene..

    Methanol is used to hold the formaldehyde in solution. Formalin refers specifically to 37% aqueous formaldehyde and is not commonly used in funeral embalming but rather in the preservation of anatomical specimens.
    Last edited by FaranginPhetch; 13-04-07 at 09:49 AM.

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