Death is inevitable. The loss of someone’s loved one and funeral traditions are very emotional topics for most people. However, the funeral rituals followed in Singapore differ from culture to culture and religion to religion. We have listed down a complete guide to funeral rituals in Singapore for some commonly practised funeral customs:
Christian Funeral Rites:
Although the rituals differ according to denomination, some traditions are the same among all. After the person passes away, a priest experienced in Christian/Catholic funeral rituals is contacted from a funeral parlour.
According to Singapore burial traditions, except for offering a mute prayer for the departed soul, there are no strict traditions to follow.
After preparation, the departed body is shifted to the mortuary where it is embalmed and viewed. A ‘’wake’’ is held before the final cremation lasting for 3 to 7 days. Although not preferred by many Christian denominations, sea burials are also permitted in the religion.
Until the day of the final cremation, family members and friends offer prayers, sing hymns, and tributes.
The family members preferably wear white on the day of burial and all the final religious traditions are conducted by the priest/pastor.
- Wear muted colors at the funeral preferably black, white, or grey preferably.
- Give mourning money – pek Kim, in case of Chinese Christian wake.
- Turn on silent mode on the phone.
- Visit the host or nearest family member to greet and offer a silent prayer to the deceased.
Muslim Funeral Rites:
Indian and Malay Muslims follow Muslim funeral traditions in Singapore. Unlike a Catholic ‘’wake’’, a Muslim funeral is recommended to take place immediately after the death, according to Islamic law.
Once the person is declared dead, he is given a religious bath named as ghusl. Later the dead body is wrapped in a clean, washed plain white sheet and shifted to the mosque by the male family members.
The members of the family offer salah-tul-mayyat i.e.prayers for the departed soul behind the Imaam of the mosque.
Later the body is taken to the graveyard where a grave is buried deep down in the ground. The dead body covered in the sheet is placed in the grave and it is then filled with soil until It reaches the ground level.
According to Singapore funeral customs, anyone can attend a Muslim funeral. However, Islamic law directs only males to attend the funeral, mosque, and graveyard.
Singapore burial traditions also implement a policy to exhume the graveyard after a period of 15 years to avoid the scarcity of land.
- Bright color dressing, jewellery, makeup, and accessories are not recommended at a Muslim funeral.
- Try to arrange food for the family for 3 days as according to Islamic law, there should be mourning for 3 days only after the death of a practising Muslim.
- If you belong to another religion, stand silently when others are offering prayers.
- Women must stand behind the men. A headscarf is recommended for females if they have to attend the funeral.
Hindu Funeral Rites:
Hinduism is mostly practised by Indians, who live a good majority in Singapore. Although Hinduism has many sects and subsects like other religions, some funeral customs are common in Singapore.
After the death of the person, the body must be kept for at least 24 hours in the home until it’s cremated. The dead body is then placed in a coffer for viewing by the family members and attendees. Usually, the body is covered with flowers or bouquets.
In Singapore funeral customs, a Hindu priest is called to follow all the traditions. Once the chanting and mantra are done, the body is transported to the crematorium where it is set on fire on wooden bars.
Afterwards, the ashes of the deceased are preserved to scatter over the Ganga River in India or any other holy water in Singapore.
The post-cremation mourning lasts for 10 days and on the 10th day, a holy prayer is arranged for the departed soul.
- Avoid wearing black, bright, and heavy dresses. Modest wearing is preferred.
- According to Singapore funeral customs, greet the host and visit the dead body in the casket, offer a prayer stand behind.
- Bringing flowers, food, or money to a Hindu funeral is not recommended as it might get offensive.
- Stand silently until the hymns and religious rituals are done. Avoid using the phone or talking loudly to other attendees.
Irrespective of the religion and culture, every funeral tradition in Singapore should be respected equally since death is quite a sentimental issue.
Buddhist Funeral Rites:
About 30% of the population of Singapore follows Buddhism. The Buddhist funerals in Singapore include simple and modest funeral customs.
Since the Buddhists believe that the soul doesn’t instantly leave the body, hence the deceased is not allowed to be touched and moved by anyone for 4 hours.
Meanwhile, the funeral arrangements are made. The Buddhists dress the dead body in casual everyday clothes and then placed it in a casket.
Later during the wake, chantings and prayers are recited generally by the monk. An altar is placed along with the casket with a photo of the deceased soul, flowers, fruits, and candles. The Buddhist funerals in Singapore are often performed in funeral sites of temples.
Since the Buddhists believe in both the cremation and burial of the dead soul, they mostly follow cremation as it is affordable and does not interfere with the scarcity of the land.
- Simple and modest clothing is recommended, preferably black in color.
- Refrain from wearing perky outfits, especially at Chinese Buddhist funerals.
- Visit the altar and place a candle for the deceased one.
- If unfamiliar with the rituals, sit quietly and observe the prayers ad chantings.
- Do not eat, talk or use the phone as it might be offensive.
- After the casket is closed, do not attempt to open it to view the dead body.