As soon as Maha Kassapa pays his last respects, a flame from heaven appears, lighting up the funeral pyre
Once the Buddha had passed away, the Order of monks and the civilian body, the lords of Kusinara, performed a ceremony of tribute to the Buddha's body for six days. On the seventh day they led the body by procession to the north of the city, going through the city center, and placed the body on the Makutabandhana Cetiya, which was situated to the northeast of the city, for the cremation. The day appointed for the cremation was the eighth day of the waning moon in the sixth lunar month, a day remembered today in Thailand as atthami puja, "offering on the eighth" day.
The Buddha's pall bearers were called Mallapamokkha. There were eight of them, each large and powerfully built. Mallapamokkha means "chief wrestler."
The Buddha's body was wrapped in layers of new cloth, said in the Pathamasambodhi to number 500. This can be interpreted to mean that there were many layers of cloth. Each layer of cloth was separated from the next by cotton wool, and the funeral officials had it placed into a golden coffin filled with fragrant oils and sealed off. This was then placed on the pyre, composed of many different kinds of fragrant woods.
At the appointed time the officials lit fires at all four corners of the pyre. The legend tells us that no matter how much they tried to light the fire, it would not ignite. So the officials asked Venerable Anuruddha (a younger cousin of the Buddha and an Arahat disciple). He informed them that the devas were not allowing the fire to be lit because they wanted to give time to Maha Kassapa, who was at that time still traveling to Kusinara, to pay tribute to the body. When Maha Kassapa did in time arrive together with his company of monks, no sooner had he bowed to the Buddha's body than a great fire created by the devas flared up.
Interpreting this, we may say that the civilian officials and the Order heard news that Maha Kassapa was on his way and was almost there, so they delayed the lighting of the fire.
Eventually the fire burned all of the Buddha's body, leaving only scraps of bone (referred to as atthi), hair, teeth, and another set of robes. The Mallian lords sprinkled fragrant water over the embers on the pyre and collected the Buddha's relics (dhatu) to be kept in the Santhagara Hall, their town hall. Surrounding and guarding the town hall were lines of fully armed soldiers, and there were dancing, music, singing and flowers of many a kind, and a festival lasting seven days was held to honor the relics.
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