Funeral customs differ according to culture or religion. When attending a Buddhist funeral service, a common practice you may observe is gift-giving. Whether that comes in the form of “pek kim” – the Hokkien term for condolence money – or other arrangements, giving a sympathy gift has long been viewed as an appropriate gesture to express your condolences for a loss.
However, choosing the right gift is paramount. Offering an inappropriate gift can make you seem insensitive, especially during this challenging time for the family. Moreover, there are certain Buddhist funeral etiquettes one should follow, but if you are a non-believer, you might not be aware of them. As such, let us share three appropriate sympathy gifts you can bring when attending a Buddhist funeral.
Food is one of the most common types of gifts you can bring or send to the bereaved as a way of expressing your condolences. Often, the process of arranging a funeral can get pretty hectic, leaving the grieving family with barely any time to consume a proper meal. However, skipping meals can be taxing on the human body, as we require nourishments so our bodies can function as per normal.
If you notice your friend or relative is overwhelmed with the preparations of a funeral and aren’t having a proper meal, you can send over some fruits, baked goods, nuts, and assorted chocolates, so they have something to snack on in the meantime. These food items are recommended because they can provide the mourning family with the comfort and nourishment they need during this challenging period.
Flowers are another common sympathy gift that many send to the bereaved. If you have attended a Buddhist funeral before, you would likely have noticed a row of funeral wreaths displayed during the service. Most Buddhists observe the practice of sending funeral flowers that are specially arranged and crafted according to the traditions and culture of the deceased and their mourning family.
Buddhists believe the main purpose of giving flowers is to spread peace in the middle of a sorrowful event. Moreover, these funeral wreaths are meant to symbolise mourning, and are considered an offering to Buddha for the serenity of the departed soul.
However, it is crucial that you take note of the flowers you choose. White lilies and white lotus are excellent choices, as they are the most common flower types accepted at Buddhist funerals. Traditionally, white flowers are preferred because they signify mourning, while red flowers are avoided because the colour red is associated with joy and celebration, making them inappropriate for a sombre occasion like a funeral.
3. Condolence money
Monetary donations, otherwise known as “pek kim”, are among the most common sympathy gifts seen during a Buddhist funeral. The money is meant to aid the grieving family tide through this challenging time, and it is typically used to offset the funeral cost.
The usual practice for giving condolence money is to place the amount into a white envelope before passing it to a member of the bereaved family. Any amount is acceptable as long as it comes from the heart. Typically, the amount given will depend on the level of connection you have with the deceased as well as your personal circumstances.
Sending sympathy gifts is one of the best ways to express your condolences to the bereaved family. This simple gesture can go a long way in helping the grieving family find peace and comfort amidst a challenging and traumatic period. However, it is vital for you to select the appropriate gift to avoid offending the departed’s family. We hope the gift ideas we shared can help you make an informed decision.
However, it is vital to note that your thought matters the most, and not all gifts need to be physical. Offering a helping hand during this challenging time can also make a world of difference. If you know a relative or friend who is struggling to cope with the demands of planning a funeral, you can offer to help them find a reliable funeral company to assist them with the arrangement.
At 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, we provide reliable and affordable funeral packages to help lessen our clients’ burdens during one of the toughest moments in their life. Let our experienced team assist you, or those you know, with the funeral arrangements so that you and the bereaved family can focus on mourning and healing.