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Poi-Leng festival showcases mummification techniques practised by Tai Buddhists

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  9 Jan 2017 12:00 AM GMT

From our Correspondent

TINSUKIA, Jan 8: Traditiol mummification techniques practiced by Tai Buddhists is a unique phenomenon. Usually, a Tai Buddhist monk who served monkhood and rendered services to the community for 20 years is considered to be a revered monk. After his death and attainment of Nirva, his mortal remains are preserved till performance of ritualistic funeral rites.

Poi Leng festival symbolized the magnificent display of three-day events culmiting at the cremation of the mummified monk along with beautifully decorated chariot to which the coffin of the monk was on display for public obeisance. According to Tai custom, pulling of chariot is auspicious and holy and brings happiness to the person and family. The Poi Leng festival, which concluded in msai in Aruchal Pradesh on Saturday, was significant as for the first time in the history of the Northeast, the coffins of two monks were put on a single chariot.

The traditiol techniques adopted to preserve the body appear to be more of embalming than mummification as claimed by local populace. In practice, the body is not preserved more than two years apprehending decay as precautiory and hygienic steps are adopted within and outside the coffin.

Immediately after death, the body is thoroughly washed and dried. The mostic robe (Shivor) is cut into small pieces of 6 inches by 10 feet long and soaked in molten candle wax. The robe pieces coated with semi-condensed wax are wrapped seven times from head to toe to make it air-proof and apparently leak proof. The body is then placed inside the coffin over a layer of charcoal and tobacco leaves are spread all over the body and coffin sealed.

The monks who performed this technique told this correspondent that this procedure had been traditiolly followed since time immemorial. The charcoal is used to soak the body discharge and fluid in case it leaks and tobacco leaves to prevent bad odour and bacterial decomposition, perhaps for its therapeutic and anti-bacterial properties. According to monks, despite these steps there might be unchecked leakage from the coffin which is prevented from human contact by inserting a small pipe at the bottom of the coffin to the underground soil after it is placed in 10-12 feet high make-shift temporary temple – Nirva till last rites are performed.

They further opined that this technique of human body preservation, though not scientifically appropriate, but till now bodies have shown no sign of decay as leakage of body fluid from the coffin was detected so far.

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