AbstractsLaw & Legal Studies


Abstract The overall subject in my thesis is the series of death rituals and related concepts and practices in contemporary Hontsho community in Bhutan. Emphasis has been given to shared traditional behaviours in Hontsho community rather than individual differences. The thesis is mainly based on available records and data collected during fieldwork in Hontsho, complemented by the available history and existing academic studies on both Tibetan and Bhutanese death rituals and attitudes towards death. To keep track, the thesis is arranged as follows. In chapter one, I reveal my objectives for writing about the death rituals in Hontsho and explain the study’s scope and limitations, materials and methodology and literature review. In chapter two I discuss the general background of certain Buddhist phenomena and concepts related to death. The third chapter deals with the transaction of the early Bhutanese funeral rituals and how the rituals were propagated in Hontsho. Chapter four depicts the rites performed at the margin of death and other means to avert death. The fifth chapter illustrates transference of consciousness rituals and the reciting of the text Liberation through Hearing in the Intermediate State, which is mandatory to be performed before disposal. Chapter six portrays the disposal tradition in Hontsho. The seventh chapter outlines the rituals conducted from the third day after death onward till the death anniversary. The thesis describes a great variety of funeral rituals in Bhutan and particularly the rituals practised in Hontsho local tradition. In this way I have attempted to show the society not only deals with rituals from day one to the death anniversary of the deceased but also how it deals with the dead body. Whereas a number of insightful studies have been produced on the death ritual in Tibet, very little has been written about the practices and concepts surrounding death in Bhutan. By giving an outline sketch of Bhutanese death ritual in general and funeral ritual in Hontsho in particular, this thesis aims to contribute to filling this gap.