The Weird World Of Buddhist Funerals For Robot Dogs

JASON CARRUTHERS is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Rituals for Dogs Have Skyrocketed In Recent Years

Everyone has friends who call themselves “pet parents.” Their dogs, cats, and other pets are not merely a presence in the house or used for protection, they are a serious part of the family.

While many people in western nations are content with purchasing a bumper sticker to show off their extensive love for their pets, others have taken more significant steps to show dedication to their furry family members. In particular, Buddhists from Thailand, Japan, and other nations have undertaken the process of holding funeral rites for their deceased pets. While the idea of a bleary-eyed burial for a pet in the backyard is common to many people, the Buddhist rites are far more complex and rife with symbolism that reflects their beliefs and hopes for the future. 

The Buddhist funeral rites are complex, beginning with an altar being prepared for the deceased. Moreover, the process involves having a monk oversee their ritual send-offs, complete with an eventual cremation that prepares the pets for a potential rebirth in the future. This new way of saying farewell to pets is rooted in the belief that beings who go to temple and earn merit for themselves in this life have the ability to be reborn again as human beings. Pets who have served their humans well by offering companionship and comfort are beginning to be seen as family members in their own right. However, they are not able to attend temple and do other tasks that would gain them the ability to be reborn as a higher-level creature in the world.

By accepting their pets as family and letting them have offerings made on their behalf, the pet’s family hope that they will be able to have their beloved friend reincarnated as a human being. By doing do, the pet could be reborn and earn a higher place in the spiritual world by committing the same good deeds that they had undertaken as pets, but as humans. 

The popularity of these funeral rites for pets is skyrocketing throughout many nations with high Buddhist populations. One temple in Bangkok estimates that they perform as many as 300 pet funerals each month at their temple alone. All told, there is no official count on the number of pet funerals that are being conducted each month, but there are some funeral parlors that are dedicated entirely to pet funerals so that owners can say goodbye to their pets. The funerals have extended themselves to many other kinds of pets, including robot pets. Overall, it seems that the sense of loss that people feel is being eased by the funerals and the belief that their pets are going on to a much better place that they have earned for being loyal and loving. 

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