Sawang Boriboon exhumes graves, cleans bones in Buddhist rite

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Pattaya’s Sawang Boriboon Foundation dug up graveyard internees without families to clean bones and prepare them for a Buddhist cremation ceremony.

Sawang Boriboon members and volunteers met March 24 at the foundation’s old graveyard in Naklua to pay respect to the dead and clear room for new bodies.

The ceremony included believers bowing before the corpses and praying to spirits. It also gave some who didn’t realize they had family in the graveyard an opportunity to properly bury their relatives.

Volunteers dig up graves to prepare the remains for cleansing and cremation.

In all, 141 bodies were exhumed, comprised of 74 males, 51 females, and 15 children. Just under 50,000 baht in donations also were collected.

The grave-cleaning ceremony originated from China and spread to Thailand. Legend purports that China had suffered flooding followed by an epidemic, leading to villagers falling ill and dying.

However, there was one monk, Taihongkong, who did not abhor the dead bodies and elicited living relatives to search for dead bodies to perform funeral rites sending their souls at peace. This act was spread far and wide, thus, it was passed on to the following generation, who considered this act as a beautiful act of humanity becoming what is known today as grave cleaning for corpses without relatives.

During grave cleaning, attendees must not under any circumstances comment to its smell and must not spit; these prohibitions have been passed on till today.