6 Different Types Of Funeral in Singapore
Singapore today mainly consists of the following races: Chinese, Malays, Indians and Eurasians, and each of the races have their own set of religion, culture and practices, which includes Hinduism, Judaism, Zoroastrianism, Buddhism, Taoism, Jainism, Christianity, Islam, Sikhism, Soka Gakkai and the Baha’i Faith. With so much different religions , funeral practices and customs differ. The following are thus the 6 most common types of funerals found in Singapore.
1. Christian Funeral
A Christian funeral usually consists of the tentage setup for the casket (usually a polished wood and half glass casket) area, where the tentage is decorated with carpet flooring and curtains in casket area.
Embalming, dressing & make-up by professionals will be the next step. Pall-bearer services ** where it starts with the collection of the deceased from hospital or home, and then transporting the body to the Undertaker / Funeral Director’s office for embalming. After embalming, the deceased will be placed into the casket, and the casket will be sent to the tentage, usually set up at the HDB void deck. Booking of the cremation slot and arrangements will then be made by the funeral director as well as the hearse transportation.
** A pallbearer is one of several funeral participants who helps carry the casket, usually covered with a pall, of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which carries the coffin. A pall, which recalls the white garments given in baptism, as well as the Resurrection of Christ at Easter, is the heavy (and usually white-colored) cloth that is draped over a coffin. The term “pallbearer” is used to signify someone who bears the coffin which the pall covers. – Wikipedia
2. Buddhist Funeral
A Buddhist funeral usually consists of the large tentage setup for the casket (usually a polished wood half glass casket) area and the visiting area, where the tentage is set near to the estate where the deceased lived previously. Carpet flooring and curtain decorations will be setup at the casket area.
Following by the Embalming, dressing & make-up by professionals. Pall-bearer services ** where it starts with the collection of the deceased from hospital or home, and then transporting the body to the Funeral Director’s office for embalming. After embalming, the deceased will be placed into the casket, and the casket will be sent to the tentage, usually set up at the HDB void deck. Booking of the cremation slot and arrangements will then be made by the funeral director as well as the hearse transport. Buddhist monks are then invited to do chanting at en-coffining (usually consisting of chanting on the last night, and one on funeral day).
Vegetarian food & fruit offerings sets for each chanting session will be provided for the deceased and also Buddha’s offering as well. Funeral necessities will also be prepared, such as joss sticks, joss stick urn, candles, joss papers sandalwood, sandalwood powder, sandalwood incense, cottonwood, mourning clothes (white t-shirts and pants usually) and also lotus candles.
Once all the rituals are done and on the last day of the funeral (may stretch out to 5 days depending on the scale and the expected no. of guests coming to offer their last respects to the deceased), an air-con bus is usually hired to bring the family and friends back and forth the crematorium, where the body is cremated at Mandai Crematorium.
3. Catholic FuneralCatholic funeral services are conducted in conjunction with the family members and catholic churches in Singapore. The funeral director will coordinate with the catholic church with regards to the timings for the en-coffining, night service, burial and cremation service. The general elements present in a catholic church are:
1) Night prayer services
2) Final Day Mass on the final day before cremation or burial
3) Final tribute paid by laying of flowers by family and friends
*The lid of the casket can be opened upon request by family members should they want to place the deceased’s personal belongings into the casket.
Roman Catholics believe that there are 3 places souls go to upon death – Heaven, Hell or Purgatory. Where we end up would depend heavily on our works and faith while alive. Those who go straight to Heaven or Hell would have its ultimate destination as that. Purgatory is an intermediate cleansing phase where some must undergo before they are able to enter Heaven.
Night prayer services are carried out where family members, relatives and friends would pray for God to be merciful to the deceased. The prayers are mainly to plead for God to forgive the sins of the dearly departed so that they would enter the gates of Heaven after the process of purgatory. Prayers at this point in time are also meant to comfort and offer hope to the living. The tradition of praying for the dead stems from scripture where those alive would do good works on behalf of the souls of the deceased to atone for the deceased’s sins.
A pair of white candles can be seen burning brightly at a Catholic Funeral Service in Singapore. These are not merely decorative items. In fact, these candles holds a deeper meaning. They are called Easter Candles and the lighting of the candles parallels the light of the resurrected Christ. These lights symbolizes the belief that Christ has conquered sin and death. Placing the candles at the altar table in front of the coffin reminds friends and relatives that the dearly departed shares in the victorious win Christ has over death, darkness and sin.
A small bottle of Holy Water is usually placed in front at the altar table. The Holy Water, used for the baptism ceremony in Singapore that rendered us sons and daughters of God is the very same element used to sprinkle over the dearly departed. This is done to remind friends and relatives of the grace and hope that Catholics have in Christ Jesus.
The Catholic Mass occurs on the final day of the wake service, just before heading over to the crematorium or burial ground. Four key persons would volunteer, usually family members, to help out on the final day Catholic Mass. Firstly, a pall is placed on top of the coffin by the four people chosen. The pall symbolizes the white gown given to Catholics during Baptism and reminds Catholics of their lives in Christ. One volunteer would then proceed to place a Holy Bible on top of the coffin. Finally, the crucifix is placed on top of the coffin. The Holy Bible and Crucifix are symbols of the Catholic faith and serves once again to remind us of Christ's victory over death. These are all done at the start of the Catholic Mass in Singapore.
Holy Communion is usually partaken during a Catholic Funeral in Singapore and incense is used during the final commendation at the Catholic Incense is a sign of prayers for the deceased being lifted to the Lord and a sign of farewell as well.
For family members who might not have a Priest or Funeral Minister to conduct the funeral service, they can also inform the funeral director they engage to arrange one for them too.
4. Taoist funeralTraditionally, Taoist believe in focusing more on health and longevity while they're alive. The goal especially in early Taoism was to achieve immortality, with the practice and cultivation of various task categorized as Neidan and Waidan. The fact that Chinese traditionally avoid talking about death as they're superstitious. Today, there is a trend of Taoist funerals becoming more simplified with each passing generation, with traditions of old, lost or often forgotten as there's too much old sayings and superstitious.
Adding to the confusion, Taoism, for most part of Chinese history, co-existed with Buddhism and Confucianism. There is therefore some influence from Buddhism in the Taoist practice of some Singaporean families. Examples of these includes having both Monks and Taoist Priest performing rites for the deceased during a Taoist Funeral wake. The above sometimes result in Taoist families being at a loss on what to do, if death besets a family member.
6. Hindu Funeral
Hindu funeral service rituals vary between sects and subsets. There is a simple overview of a Hindu funeral customs and traditions. If you have specific questions relating to Hindu funeral customs for an individual sect, we recommend that you consult with your spiritual adviser.
Hinduism is the third largest religion in the world. It is estimated to have nearly a billion followers. Unlike other religions, Hinduism has no founder and no common creed or doctrine. Most prevalent among Asian Indians, the religion teaches that God is within each being and object in the universe and also transcends every being and object. It teaches that the essence of each soul is divine; and that the purpose of life is to become aware of that divine essence.
The Hindu gods and goddesses can be called on to help. Their goal is to help believers transcend the world as it is ordinarily perceived and realize the divine presence. The many forms of Hindu worship, ritual and meditation are intended to lead the soul toward the direct experience of God or Self.
5. Muslim FuneralFor Muslim Funeral, Sharia law requires that the body be buried as soon as possible after death. A good website to refer to for Islamic funeral traditions is Everplans.com.
To learn more about Islamic funeral you may also refer to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_funeral
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