It may sound chilling to some, but lying inside a casket is seen as an acceptable practice in some countries in Asia. While most leave it up to their family to choose their coffin after their death, there are superstitious beliefs that prompt some people to choose their coffin while they are alive.
Sleeping in Coffins Rids Bad Luck?
In Malaysia, it is common to believe that sleeping in a coffin will bring bad luck. However, a group of devotees in Jelutong, Penang, Malaysia believe that sleeping in a coffin at the Loo Im Si Taoist temple works the opposite—that it should help get rid of bad luck if you only believe.
There are five different coffins there but only one is aptly-sized for devotees to sleep in. The temple opens from 8 pm to 2 am only. The tradition was said to come from an instruction given by a ‘hell deity’ in a dream. Now a century-old temple, the devotees worship more hell deities including two hell soldiers in the temple.
They also believe that a spirit worshipped by the devotees arrived at the temple in 2007 and that the spirit spoke through one of the devotees in a trance. The medium was instructed to place the five coffins in the temple and that the spirit told them that devotees who have serious problems caused by bad luck are to sleep in one of the coffins.
One of the devotees claims his business and health improved after sleeping in the coffin twice. The devotee said that doctors could not find what was wrong with him and that only the experience of sleeping in the coffin made him feel better. A 19-year old devotee recently went through the coffin-sleeping ceremony. The medium is said to foresee bad luck that could take place in the future and forewarns the devotees of things like theft and life-threatening situations.
Dying and being reborn in a coffin
There is a similar belief they have in Thailand where they practice lying in coffins in a Buddhist temple. It is their belief that one dies a sort of spiritual death when lying in the coffins. The monks perform death rites on the participants and thereafter, it is believed that those who undergo the ritual are reborn. It is believed that all bad karma will cease to follow them in this new life.
It is believed that the ritual fools spirits to think the person is already dead. Thus, those who believe in the rituals can live new lives. There are people who experienced lying in coffins and claim that they met with the spirits of their ancestors during the rituals.
Care for a death simulation?
It’s one thing to play a virtual reality game and another to experience a real-life simulation. In South Korea, they have a motivational seminar called Coffin Academy wherein they promote death-simulating activities like decorating a personalized tombstone, writing a will, saying your final goodbyes, and getting into a coffin. This is said to encourage people to lead more meaningful and fulfilling lives.
Would you go to a funeral fair?
In Japan, there is a saying that goes, “if you lie in a coffin while you are alive, you will live longer.” Aside from the belief that lying in coffins extends one’s longevity, it is also believed that the experience makes one feel rejuvenated and have a new vigor for life.
There is also a growing trend known of “End of life” preparations. Old-aged Japanese are keen on planning their funeral and making sure that all goes exactly as planned. They even have “shukatsu” tours where they do activities to prepare for the end of life such as having their portraits taken for the funeral.
They also have an event in Japan called “Experience Being Placed in a Coffin” where one can lie down a casket and pretend they are dead. The participants can also select a burial outfit, drink beer, talk about death, and experience a simulation of scattering one’s ashes. Events like these are sponsored by coffin makers and funeral homes.
They have an annual Shukatsu Festa funeral business fair in Tokyo where over 50 funeral business companies from caskets to condolence wreath florist exhibit their latest products and services. It is said that around 5,000 visitors come to the funeral planning exhibit in Tokyo every year. Both seniors and young people in their twenties attend the exhibit, evens, and tours.
Aeon, one of the largest shopping chains in Japan provides services on learning to write a last will and testament that will be legally accepted. They also offer dying people a chance to select the right casket.
This boost in the funeral economy in Japan are also boosted by bestselling author Dr. Jinichi Nakamura. In his book “If You Want a Peaceful Death, Don’t Have Anything To Do with Medical Care: Recommendations for Dying of Natural Causes,” he recommends contemplating one’s own death and spending time lying in a coffin.
It is up to one’s personal beliefs whether or not they will take on the coffin-sleeping experience while they are alive. Regardless, it is beneficial to plan for one’s funeral ahead of time. The costs of a funeral can significantly decrease with long-term planning. Purchasing a coffin and cemetery lot in installments can save you big bucks especially if you can take the time to canvas and do your research.
You should also consider planning the type of funeral service you want. This can take off some of the stress death causes to their loved ones. You may even consider personalizing your funeral giving instructions as to what type of funeral flowers you want, a favorite florist you met with to make your casket sprays, music, and photographs you want to be displayed, among other preparations.