Laotian immigrant Thung Phetakoune, 62, lost his life Monday, two days after a
neighbor, Richard Labbe, allegedly pushed him to the ground. The victim suffered fatal
head injuries in the incident.
Visitation will be
tonight, from 6 to 9 p.m., at the Kent and Pelczar Funeral Home, 77 Exeter St., in
Newmarket. On Saturday, Phetakoune's family and friends will host a Buddhist funeral from
11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Buddhists believe a
funeral provides an opportunity for both the deceased and the mourners to gain higher
status in the next life. The super-religious can hope to enter Nirvana the absence
of suffering but for most Buddhists, earthly existence is simply one level of
suffering or another.
Buddhism the type practiced in Laos physical suffering, like giving birth,
disease, aging and even death, is the lowest level of suffering.
In the Buddhist
spiritual system, a murderer is much worse off than his victim, as the mental anguish that
results from violence is the worst kind of suffering leading to rebirth as an
animal, a wandering ghost or even an evil spirit.
So weeping and
wailing is out of place at a Buddhist funeral. Instead, the family members usually wear
white and focus on ways to earn merit for themselves and their dead. Others in attendance
should wear black to the funeral.
granddaughters, who will be among those wearing white, said they will become Buddhist nuns
for the day on Saturday.
the victim's son, has gone to Connecticut and will spend this evening in a Buddhist
temple. He will return Saturday morning with a group of monks who will officiate at the
The monks and close
male relatives of Thung will spend tonight purifying themselves for the ceremony.
Somphou said he
will be a monk for the day on Saturday, shaving his head and wearing colorful robes to the
rites is perhaps the most important role for a Buddhist monk.
the rites for the dead may be considered the one indispensable service rendered the
community by the monks," according to the Venerable monk Pannyavaro of the Buddha
Dharma Education Association.
recite prayers for the dead throughout the days leading up to the funeral, and most of the
funeral service consists of the monks chanting in honor of the dead.
granddaughters said women should avoid eye contact with the monks as they chant their
family members can help elevate the spiritual essence of their lost loved one by offering
food to the monks.
The classic formula
for presenting the food, called Matakabhatta, goes like this:
Sirs, we humbly beg to present this mataka food and these various gifts to the
Sangha" the Buddhist group.
continues, "May the Sangha receive this food and these gifts of ours in order that
benefits and happiness may come to us at the end of time."
Pannyavaro said, "As long as the body is present, the spirit can benefit by the gifts
presented, the sermons preached and the chants uttered before it."
The climax of a
Buddhist funeral is the cremation, when family and friends bring candles and torches to
ignite the bottom of the pyre that will consume the corpse.
pregnant women should not attend cremation services, as the spirit freed from the body
might enter the unborn.
the dead in memory of the Buddha himself, whose body was burned after his death around 477