Buddhist Death Rituals of Southeast Asia and China

Aims and objectives

We aim to establish a pattern of text and ritual for the Theravada countries of South and Southeast Asia concentrating on the death rites. In doing so we will accomplish the following objectives (listed according to project phases)

1.1 to compile a comprehensive bibliography of secondary literature on Theravada Buddhist death rituals in Southeast Asia
1.2 to define the parameters of research on Buddhist death rituals

2.1 to document a number of Theravada Buddhist death rites ('snap-shots') in selected temples in Thailand (Bangkok, Chiang Mai) and Laos (Luang Prabang)
2.2 to establish the similarities and differences of Buddhist death rites of three Southeast Asian countries (Thailand, Laos and Sri Lanka)
2.3 to identify the pattern of Buddhist death rituals in Southeast Asia
2.4 to examine the nature of the monk-laity relationship in the context of Southeast Asian Buddhist death rituals
2.5 to investigate specific social issues by conducting a number of interviews (topical and based on questionnaire)
2.6 to establish the relationship between ritual practice and Theravada doctrine
2.7 to investigate and interpret the use of texts in the death rituals

3.1 to produce audio-visual materials for teaching and exhibitions by editing the audio and video footage in order to share the findings with academic and non academic public
3.2 to contribute papers to two academic conferences on Buddhist Studies (UKABS and IABS)
3.3 to produce a collection of academic papers to be edited together in a volume on Buddhist death rituals
3.4 to present the film footage and background information to a wider public in form of an exhibition at Leeds University, Bristol University and a popular venue in Bristol (such as Watershed, Bristol Museum, etc.)


Principal investigator
Professor Paul Williams; Dr Rita Langer; Dr Patrice Ladwig
Principal project staff
Professor Paul Williams
Start date
Monday, January 1, 2007
Completion date
Tuesday, December 1, 2009