A funeral for an elephant

Charles Cowling


“In Thailand it is customary for a monk to pray for an elephant who has passed away. Here’s a rare peek of an elephant’s funeral.”

2 mins 6 secs. Click on the icon on the bottom-right of the screen to bring it up to full size.


6 thoughts on “A funeral for an elephant

  1. Animal wakes and funerals | The Good Funeral Guide

    […] time ago Charles blogged about an elephant’s funeral. Here – to finish – is a BBC film about the reactions of a small herd of elephants […]

  2. Charles Cowling

    I can’t find a word for what those elephants are expressing as they gather round the dead body, nor a thought that encompasses the meaning of what they are doing with it. ‘Grieving’ and ‘mourning’ spring to mind, but it’s too easy to attribute human feelings to what we cannot understand.

    Their demeanour gives presence to the dead animal in a way that embraces living an beyond, of which all, dead and living, are equally a part; and that is what makes this moving for me, as well as the humble respect and awe of the monks.

    It is what I always wish humans would do around the bodies of our dead. I think when we do we can find our way to this elephantine place of contemplation; at least elephants aren’t encumbered by social mores telling them bodies are unpleasant!

    Charles Cowling
  3. Charles Cowling
    Jenny Uzzell

    I have to admit I was filling up watching it. Strange how animals affect me that way far more often than humans do!

    Charles Cowling
  4. Charles Cowling

    that’ll do for me too – that was actually surprisingly moving.

    According to wonderful Wiki Aristotle rated elephants as “The animal which surpasses all others in wit and mind.”
    there’s a beautiful story of elephant society and cognition surrounding death too. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant_cognition
    This Thai ritual affords a little more dignified ending perhaps than this… coming soon to the Natural History Museum?

    Charles Cowling
  5. Charles Cowling

    Amazingly lovely, isn’t it?

    Charles Cowling
  6. Charles Cowling
    Jenny Uzzell

    Wow! Thank you for that, Charles.

    Charles Cowling

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