Saturday matinee — The Free Funeral Service Society

Charles 7 Comments


3 mins 54 secs

The Free Funeral Service Society was founded by Kyaw Thu, a Burmese film actor and film director. One of the top leading men of Burmese cinema in the 1980s and 1990s, Kyaw Thu continues to star in films and has directed several successful films. Since the early 2000s, Kyaw Thu has devoted much time to do social work for the poor. He is founder and vice president (now President) of the Free Funeral Services Society (FFSS), which provides free funeral services to the poor.

According to a Buddhist monk, “The rising popularity and influence of the FFSS, which relies on private donations among the Burmese public, has worried the junta so much so that in February 2008 it ordered several Rangoon journals not to publish information about the group’s activities, while the year before, its registration renewal was refused by the government until an appeal met with success.” [Source

Click the icon in the bottom right-hand corner to bring the film up to full size. 


Kyaw Thu with Aung San Suu Kyi at the 10th anniversary celebration of the founding of the Free Funeral Service Society.


  1. Charles

    Thank you Charles for a truly moving and profound video, and news of a wonderful organisation led by a good and brave man.

    We could of course do it here, but we note that all the video’d funerals featured people in the community doing stuff. No demands for black limos, £350 floral displays. Simple procedures for people who lived simply, I guess.

    I find it difficult not to compare this very favourably with the bankruptingly expensive Ghanaian funeral cult of ostentatious consumption. But comparisons are odious, people do what they do…

    The coconut milk on the child is almost unbearably poignant.

  2. Charles

    And if that shack is the crematorium, let’s bring the architect to our country.

    I can’t help wondering what’s so bad about this that the junta want to discourage it…

    And you have an excellent point, gloria mundi: that it shows how funerals are expensive simply because we don’t get involved in them.

  3. Charles

    Wow…what an excellent organisation, and a wonderful video. a little off the point, I know, but the music was amazing!

    The coconut milk was, indeed, moving. This has its origins in the Vedas (arguably the oldest sacred texts in the world) where there is a very confused attitude in places towards the relationship of the body and the atman during cremation and in the afterlife. Various funeral hymns make provision for protecting the body during cremation usually with the use of a psychpompic goat, and Agni (the fire) is invoked to be gentle and not to ‘utterly destroy’ the body.

  4. Charles

    Another, (albeit rather ancient) example of the ambivilence and irrationality of our attitudes towards a dead body, which have, I think, been discussed extensively elsewhere on this blog.

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