Postcards from the Edge

of Bangladesh

Making Merit

This morning the ceremony was held for the girl who recently committed suicide. I think I’ve pieced together what the ceremony was about, with Buddhadatta explaining it to me and a spot of Googling. What would I do without the internet. 

Merit is a concept in Buddhism, and it can be gained in a number of ways. Merit accumulates as a result of good deeds, acts or thoughts and that carries over to later in life or to a person’s next birth. Such merit contributes to a person’s growth towards liberation (enlightenment). So it is kind of like karma. I think. Or merit is used to ‘control’ one’s karma. So merit contributes to karma. I think. It’s all a bit technical for me…

Also, the merit of an act can be ‘transferred’ to a deceased loved one in order to diminish the deceased’s suffering in their new existence. So that is was this morning was about. 

About 15 monks arrived, and sat in front of the ‘audience’. Behind a table of donations (including money, candles, tissues, light bulbs, biscuits). 


Before the chanting began

Not sure if you can make out the white sting that is connected to the water jug (with leaves sticking out of it). This ball of string was looped or wound around all the monks before the chanting/praying begun. Then after the chanting it was rolled up again, and dipped into the water jug. Then one of the monks used the stick of leaves and ‘anointed’ the ‘audience’ with the water. Guess it was like holy water?


Lunch was also being prepared, by some ladies sweating over a hot fire. Very hot and sweaty work. Poor lady. She doesn’t look too happy does she. 


I’ll be heading back for lunch shortly.

Hopefully this ceremony will help some of the children deal with what has happened. Many of them (mostly girls, but also some of the younger boys) have been unable to sleep because they believe the girl’s ghost is still here. 


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