MEDFORD, Mass--More than 220 mourners assembled Saturday for the funeral of Dunster House junior Trang Phuong Ho '96
The funeral, which was a traditional Vietnamese Buddhist ceremony intended to send the deceased into the next life, followed a two-day wake in which Ho's friends and relative continued to search for explanations of her death at the hands of her roommate of two years, Sinedu Tadesse '96. Tadesse committed suicide after killing Ho last Sunday, May 28.
Ho's friends and relatives converged at that Dello Russo Funeral Home in Medford Saturday morning. Ho's mother and two surviving sisters live in Medford.
Two shuttle buses transported Harvard students and resident tutors to the building.
Ho's body lay in an open casket, her head turned to the left side and wrapped in a white headband. Her sisters, Thao and Tram, also wore the mourning bands. White is a traditional color of mourning in Vietnam.
A portrait of Ho--the same that appeared in the first-year facebook--sat in front of the 20-year-old biology concentrator's coffin, in front of a portrait of Amitabha, the buddha for the afterlife.
The Rev. Thich Giac Duc, the priest of the Unity Buddhist Congregation, read from the Maha Pranya Sutra, the Mahayana Buddhist liturgy for the dead. Two assistants burned incensed and chanted as Duc recited the half-hour-long liturgy in Sanskrit, Vietnamese and Chinese.
At approximately 10:15 a.m. Saturday, the coffin was closed amid the wails of Ho's mother, Quy Thi Ho.
Among the mourners at the service were Harvard President Neil L. Rudenstine, Radcliffe College President Linda S. Wilson, Dunster House Senior Tutor Suzi Naiburg, Vice President and General Counsel Margaret Government, Community and Public Affairs James H. Rowe III '73.
After the service, Ho's body was placed in a black hearse.
Preceded by a police motorcade and a funeral car carrying a bed of flower arrangements, the hearse slowly wound its way down Main St. in Medford. It was followed by more than a dozen cars containing family members and mourners, and the two Harvard shuttle buses. Inside the buses, several students quietly cried.
The retinue reached the Mt. Auburn Cemetery in West Cambridge 20 minutes later where they packed the small Bigelow Chapel at the cemetery's center.
Mourners filled the chapel's seats and the second-floor gallery. There, Duc repeated the three-part Sanskrit liturgy at the side of Ho's closed coffin. In a few brief remarks in English, he told the mourners: "Our lives on this earth are impermanent...Disease causes us [to] suffer. Death causes us [to] suffer. Wisdom causes us [to] suffer."
"Wherever there is violence there is suffering," Duc said, apparently in reference to Ho's death.
At 12:10 p.m. four pall-bearers removed Ho's coffin from the chapel.