The procedure for a Laotian funeral ceremony is as follows.
There is a funeral procession with the photograph of the deceased at front, where all walk holding a long white cloth. The person holding the photograph is not a Buddhist priest but a family member of the deceased. Also, male members of the very close relatives shave their heads and wear priest's robes for the procession. The males shaving their head on death of a family member of a relative is known as Tewhoaron in Laotian. The priests supervising the funeral follow behind.
Buddhist nuns line up behind. They are also holding the long white cloth. A Buddhist nun is called Mecao in Laotian, and a priest is called a Cuba.
Female family members dressed in white line up after the Mecaos. You can see some with sunshades due to the hot weather.
Relatives follow and the funeral car follows closely behind.
This is the funeral car. A truck is decorated and a tower made out of wood is placed on top of the coffin. The tower is decorated in many colors.
The acquaintances of the deceased follow the funeral car. Although this is the complete procession, the people do not march all the way from home to crematorium but start walking near the crematorium after traveling by car from home.
This is the crematorium. In Vientiane, this is where the people hold ceremonies and cremate on death of a person. It is a temple called Tapoon on the right side of Patuxay, the Independent Arch.
This is where the cremation ceremony is held. There is a place for the body in the centre and tables with candles and artificial flowers around it.
This is a photograph of another place where the cremation ceremony is being held.
Nuns and the female family members of the deceased sit in front while the male family members wearing priest뭩 robes and the priests sit behind them.
When the coffin is lowered to the grave, the female family members pour coconut juice onto the coffin.
After pouring the coconut juice, they wash their hands in a bucketful of water prepared on the side. There are water and flower petals in this bucket and this water is known as Namhon. It is said that this washing of hands ensures that the spirit of the deceased does not follow the people to their home.
A tower is placed on the coffin. This tower is called Mam in Laotian.
One corner of the Mam is tied with the long cloth which is then placed in front of the female family members and the nuns. This is known as Sycin Rewarpie. The priests then begin their prayer for the deceased.
When the long prayer of the priests for the deceased is done, women pour the content of the small bottle in front of them on the ground. This ceremony is called Yacknam and it is the same Yacknam that people perform at the end when they are practicing Takbat.
After the Yacknam, priests offer funeral flowers and candles.
The priests pray for the deceased once more and the family members wait for the priests' prayer to end in front of them.
After the prayer, the priests take what is offered in front of them- in this case, a new priest's robe- and return to their temple. They have completed their important part as priests.
Following the priests' withdrawal, flowers and candles are offered firstly by the family members.
After that, they form a line to greet those returning home as shown in the photo.
After the flower offering by the family members, others offer flowers and return home after washing their hands in Namhon. They also make sure to greet the family waiting in line. Although some people leave one by one, most wait for the funeral to end on the side. A ceremony called Wankaraf is held where the people wait; this is one of the funeral commissioners throwing money and cookies to the crowd. The people can pick up the money and cookies to take home.
When the ceremony is almost at an end, people take a commemorative photo. This starts with the family members and the relatives. They take a photo of the entire family as well as individual ones with fewer members.
Female family members dressed in white light the gunpowder hanging from a wire that connects one end of the tent to the coffin. This marks the official start of the cremation.
The cremation has begun. The flames flare up in a flash and like this, a person returns to ashes. When the cremation starts, others return and only the family members remain to take photos with the cremation as a background.
Although taking photos in front of the fire is certainly to pay tribute to the deceased, it is still a very strange sight. After a long time, they collect the bones, lay them in the tower and the tower is enshrined in the temple. You can see magnificent towers along the walls of the temple in Laos and these are in actual fact, the graves with bones of the deceased.