Buddhists plead for their dead

by Jane Metlikovec, The Herald Sun, Oct 26, 2004

Victoria, Australia -- BUDDHISTS have pleaded with a Government inquiry to help them bury their dead facing west to prevent grieving relatives from being cursed.

Buddhist Dr Thel Thong said traditionally Cambodian Buddhists must be buried with the head facing west in correlation with the sunset.
Most cemetery trusts bury the dead along set plot lines, with many in a north-south alignment.

And Buddhists also say they want to join Catholics, Protestants and Jews in having their own separate burial section in Victorian cemeteries. The Springvale Necropolis has a section reserved for Asians, but no cemetery in Victoria has a dedicated Buddhist section, despite Buddhism being the fastest growing religion in Australia with more than 360,000 devotees.

The parliamentary inquiry into the regulation of the funeral industry was also told last week that funeral directors were charging up to $129 an hour for some Buddhists to pray over their loved ones for up to seven days before burial.