Death is a significant event in Buddhist culture. Buddhists believe that life and death have a cyclic nature which is termed ‘Samsara’. The belief gives foundation to the idea that one’s actions during their current life as well as previous lives have a cumulative effect on the verdict of the beginning of their new life. This is similar to the contemporary notion of reincarnation.
The above mentioned is the shared belief amongst the different sects of Buddhism. The difference usually occurs in the funeral customs, some preferring the more traditional approach whilst others opt for modern practices. However, all sects living in Singapore agree that funeral rituals are upheld to ease the deceased’s transition into their new life.
Here are some of the funeral customs that make a Buddhist funeral unique and are part of a Buddhist funeral package:
1. Cremation Is Popular Among Buddhists In Singapore
One of the basic rights of a funeral is the method of burial. Buddhists believe in cremating their dead because cremation allows the soul to free itself from the physical form.
According to tradition, Buddhists Monks lead a chanting prayer at the crematorium. The chants can also be performed by family members in case there is an absence of monks. The next day, the cremation remains are gathered by the family. The decision of what to do with the remains is up to the family. Some prefer to keep the ashes in an urn; others scatter them in a body of water.
2. Donating Cloth To The Monks
Theravada Buddhists in Singapore believe that donating white coloured cloth to monks present at the funeral will bring the deceased good favour. The good deed generated by this specific action is transferred to the deceased by pouring water into an overflowing cup whilst performing funeral chants over the body.
3. Bathing Ceremony
Buddhists of Southeast origin in Singapore participate in the practice of bathing their deceased. However, this custom does not extend to the whole body; it is only the hands that are bathed. Friends and family present at the funeral pour water over the deceased’s hands before the body is placed in the coffin.
If the deceased is to be cremated, it is customary to wait for distant relatives to take part in the honorary ritual. During the waiting period, monks are called up to chant over the body daily.
Revising Holy Scriptures during the funeral event is not exclusive to Buddhism. However, the act of chanting and involvement of Monks is what makes it unique. Buddhists believe this act can be used to transfer value posthumously. The scriptures revolve around such topics:
- Chenrezig Mantra: praise to the jewel in the lotus.
- Heart Sutra Mantra: the heart of the perfection of wisdom.
- Medicine Buddha Mantra: may the many sentient beings who are sick, quickly be freed from sickness.
5. The Atmosphere Depicts Peace and Serenity
Buddhist funeral services are usually held at home or in a monastery, and monks are usually invited to lead the funeral service, reading sermons and lead chants.
An image of the Buddha is positioned beside the altar or in front, along with an image of the departed near the casket. Mourners can lay candles, flowers, fruits and light incense around the deceased’s body.
Divine Casket Singapore was established in 2004 by the late Silvester, one of the first few embalmers in Singapore. Through his dedication to the craft of embalming, he sought to provide the best for the deceased, emphasizing respect for those who have passed and remembering those who have been left behind. His craftsmanship has earned much praise and compliment throughout the 1990s from grateful clients.
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