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​How to Conduct the 49-Day Buddhist Service for the Deceased

Family members can cultivate virtuous merits for the deceased from the moment of his/her passing until the 49th day*, by practicing vegetarianism, upholding the Five Precepts, doing good deeds, making offerings to the Three Jewels, and helping the poor. They can also attend Dharma assemblies to transfer merits to the deceased, with the help of the group practice. By doing so, family members can not only cultivate compassion but also develop good affinity with numerous sentient beings.
1.Set up an altar or memorial place at home with a Buddha statue and the photo of the deceased, for family members to chant liturgies during morning and evening services, as well as providing a place for friends to mourn.
2. Make offerings of flowers and fruits to the deceased.
3. Conduct Buddhist services for the next 49 days from the moment of passing, if possible. Every day, wholeheartedly follow morning and evening liturgies, recite Amitabha Buddha's name, give Dharma talks to the deceased, practice vegetarianism, practice generosity by giving, do good deeds, and transfer merits to the deceased. In so doing, we help the deceased be reborn in Heaven Realms or Buddha's Pure Land.
4. Family members can gather at the altar every day to recite sutras and the Buddha's name or attend Dharma assemblies held by Buddhist monasteries to transfer merits to the deceased.
5. Within 49 days of the passing, family members should practice vegetarianism as best as they can, serve their relatives and friends with vegetarian meals, uphold the Five Precepts (No Killing, No Stealing, No Sexual Misconduct, No Verbal Misconduct, Abstaining from Alcohol), help the poor, make offerings to the Three Jewels, and transfer merits so that the deceased can be relieved of suffering, be reborn in Buddha's Pure Land and have a favorable rebirth.
6. During this period, family members should have a clean and neat appearance and interact with others according to modern etiquette. Men should not grow any facial hair. Wearing mala beads is recommended as a reminder to recite the Buddha's name.
* Described in Buddhist sutras, durations of practicing a method were often based on 7 days and its multiples such as 14, 21, 28, and sometimes it could last for 7 weeks, 49 days.    (Holding a Flower and Smiling, Master Sheng Yen)

Dharma Drum Mountain Social Care Center

Extended Reading:
How to Conduct Buddhist Services for Those Who Are Dying or Have Just Passed Away

The Principles for Conducting a Buddhist Funeral

Procedures for the Buddhist Service for the Deceased