Previously the government didn’t allow any animal cremation within the city limits, but they have become more flexible in the last few years. Now, four temples in Thailand (or Bangkok?) offer animal funerals. One of them is wat Khlong Toey Nai near the Chao Phraya River. However, this temple gets pretty busy and it is not always easy to book a ceremony at short notice.Another temple offering animal funerals and ceremonies is wat Sakorn Sun Prachasun in Lat Prao.
The business of animal funerals (maybe human, too) is pretty emotionless. One arrives with the deceased animal in a box of a certain size. The box will be placed in an already set-up flower arrangement at the foot of a dais. The belongings of the animal that have been collected throughout the house will be put next to the box and the candles, flowers, incense, wood etc. is placed at the edge of the dais.The monk arrives and chats with the mourners for a few minutes before he settles in. He reads off a card and inserts the name of the animal, if he can remember it. Otherwise he asks the mourners for the name. During the ceremony, the monk connect the mourners, the dead animal and the belongings with a white cotton string to help the passing to the next life.After a few minutes the official part is over and the mourners can take photos with the monk, the animal, each other etc.
The next step is that the box is picked up again and the group walks over to the cremation furnace. The box is placed inside, the mourners donate some coins and pick up paper flowers. The monk will light the first flower and places them inside the furnace in front of the box. The mourners will follow and add their flowers to the pile which by that time is on fire or smoldering and will eventually light up the box. However, the mourners do not wait for it to be on fire, but be on their way.The belongings of the animal are taken away, disposed or maybe used for the stray animals that live in the temple.The next day, the mourners can pick up the ashes of their beloved animal and proceed to the river. The ashes will be released into the water and the spirit of the animal floats away towards paradise.The funeral in Klong Toey Nai costs around THB 1,800 including the dispersing of the ashes on the Chao Phraya River.
Animal funerals are apparently not that common in the world, but it peaked Paul Koudounaris’ interest. His photos from all over the world are quite touching.