Singapore is a multi-religious society, evidenced by the different religious buildings in our midst, and the many religious celebrations all year round. This diversity can also be seen in the way funerals are conducted, the way rites are performed, to the songs or music being played. In this article, we will take a look at the different types of funeral rites performed during funeral services based on cultural and religious practices, and how Nirvana Singapore is able to offer tailored funeral packages to suit those requirements.
Buddhists believe that a funeral oversees the different stages of life and death, such as the cause of suffering, the end of suffering, and the path that frees the deceased from suffering; and the rites performed are designed to ease said suffering. During Buddhist funeral services in Singapore, it’s common to see family members of the deceased chant Buddhist sutra, such as the Diamond Sutra that they believe allows their loved ones to rid themselves of past karma and gain enlightenment. Buddhist chanting and music will also be played regularly to soothe the deceased’s passing whilst symbolising the lighting of a path for the departed. At Buddhist funeral services in Singapore, guests will typically light a single joss stick each to pay respect at the altar and bow as a token of appreciation. Lastly, a monk will also be present to chant on the first day, the last night, and on the day of the funeral itself, as well as before the cremation.
A Taoist funeral can be quite complex with different rules to adhere to. For instance, you will commonly find black, brown, white, or blue outfits on the deceased, with no traces of red anywhere, as it is said to cause the deceased’s spirit to return as a ghost. Similar to Buddhist funeral services in Singapore, a Taoise funeral also consists of an altar with a photograph placed in front of the casket, where guests would go to pay respect. The deceased’s favourite food will also be laid out as an offering. However, for Taoist funerals, there are specific customs to be followed. For instance, the coffin of the deceased will be nailed shut once everyone has paid their respects, but no one should be looking at the coffin while it’s being shut. You may also find friends and relatives perform a ritual to summon the soul by calling out the deceased’s name in the hopes that they will be resurrected. Another common ritual involves the eldest son to collect water from the Earth deity to symbolise letting go of earthly possessions so the deceased can start a new life on a clean slate.
Christian funerals aren’t very ritualistic, but they do have their customs as well. While there are no chantings or offerings to be made, the service often includes worship services similar to that in a regular church; where hymns are sung, Bible verses are read, and a pastor would then give a sermon, usually revolving around the passing and the resurrection of souls. It’s also common to find a Chinese-speaking pastor translating the sermon to guests. There will also be a segment for eulogies to be read. There will also usually be hymns sung at the site of the burial or cremation, as the pastor says his final words before the commencement of the cremation/burial.
As the religion (or lack thereof) suggests, freethinker funerals don’t adhere to any religious rites, being secular in nature. However, it goes without saying that the appropriate etiquette and dress code that you would expect a solemn occasion to have should still be followed. However, with fewer restrictions, some families might even choose to hold the funeral in a more celebratory nature as the deceased’s life is remembered with joy and fondness. You may also hear more non-traditional music at freethinker/non-religious funerals.
Planning for the funeral of a loved one can be a painful and sometimes complicated process, especially when you might not be entirely familiar with the rites and ceremonies required as part of the deceased’s religion. It might also be difficult to get everything in order during this time of bereavement and emotional toll. This is where Nirvana Singapore can lend a hand, with experts who are well versed with what funerals of different religions require. We currently offer affordable packages for funeral services in Singapore for Buddhists, Taoists, Christians, and freethinkers, with varying lengths and displays according to your preferences. For more information about these funeral packages, please visit our website.