In Singapore, there are around 32% of people live according to the Buddhist faith. This religious community has many different currents. Despite the diversity and the distance to the home countries, some burial rituals have also established themselves in this country. The Buddhist burial in Singapore is characterized by the fact that the traditional rituals of the respective countries of origin are mostly simplified and abbreviated. Especially in the traditionally long farewell to the deceased, the burial laws of the federal states are particularly restrictive. Unlike the Jewish and Islamic funeral, both are in Buddhism earth and cremations allowed.
Death – a new beginning
The focus of Buddhist burial rituals is the belief in samsara, the painful and eternal cycle of birth and rebirth. Buddhists believe that only the body dies and the soul continues to exist in another form of existence. She leaves the old body after death and looks for a new one. In which area of existence the soul will be reborn in the next life that decides the karma, a spiritual concept. According to this, one can influence whether one is reborn in the world of humans, gods, and demigods (good karma) or in the world of animals, hungry ghosts, and hell-beings (bad karma) during one’s lifetime through good or bad deeds, thoughts, intentions, and longings. Positive thoughts in the process of dying also influence the future realm of existence. Here you will also learn about holylandcasket buddhist package.
Buddhists believe that a person can be reborn up to 500 times. The ultimate goal is to free oneself from the seemingly endless cycle of rebirths and to achieve nirvana as a paradisiacal state of perfection and redemption. The “Noble Eightfold Path ” as part of the Buddha’s teaching is a practical guide on the way there.
Occurrence of death
If a member of the Buddhist faith dies, he should be cared for by people whom the dying person likes and who are pleasant to him. Encouraging and positive words should help the dying person develop healing thoughts. The last impressions and thoughts influence the karma and decide in which form the rebirth takes place.
According to Buddhist teachings, a person’s body consists of 5 elements (earth – water – fire – air – emptiness), which dissolve into one another in the process of dying. Before, during, and after the onset of death, the recitation of the Buddha name Amitabha by the dying person and the people around him plays an important role. It should make the dying person aware of his wish to be reborn in the Pure Land of Sukhavati (the land of the Buddha). According to tradition, the deceased must not be touched for up to 3 days after death. It is believed that the process of dying is not yet complete and could be disturbed by touch. In Singapore, it is time to layout often shortened due to local conditions and legislation (source). The corpse was then washed without any fixed rules, either at home by the relatives, in the hospital, or in the funeral home.
Buddhist burial rituals
The burial rituals in Buddhism are not designed as uniformly as in Christianity or in Judaism. In Buddhist countries, burial ceremonies are an interplay of relatives and monks. They recite sutras (speeches of the Buddha) and the monks give lectures. In Singapore, Buddhist burial rites consist of a speech, the recitation of texts, and meditation in which the Buddhist attitude towards death and rebirth is expressed.
Buddhist burial – the funeral service
The funeral service takes place in the hall of the cemetery, whereby any Christian symbols that may be present do not disturb. In some cities, there are also wats (religious centers) where funeral ceremonies can also be held. The coffin or urn is laid out for the ceremony. A chime of the gong introduces the celebration. In addition, an altar is set up, which is decorated with a Buddha figure, incense sticks, flowers, and offerings (e.g. cigarettes, rice, fruit). The ceremony itself traditionally consists of hymns of praise, prostration, and recitation of mantras, which are supposed to reflect the worship of Buddha. There follows a funeral service in front of the memorial altar.
In Buddhist countries, the mourning ceremonies often last several days. In Singapore, however, time is limited. A cemetery hall can usually be rented for 1 hour. Dates for Buddhist funeral services are therefore often given at the end of the day. Any odor nuisance from incense sticks does not arise for subsequent mourning parties if the Buddhist celebration is the last of the day. For Buddhists, the exact day of the burial and the mourning ceremonies is decisive. This is calculated by a fortune teller according to astrological criteria. However, the Singapore cemetery administration is often unable to keep this date, so that the mourning community often has to make compromises.
Buddhist burial – the burial
Monks or relatives first subject the gravesite to ritual cleansing. Then the coffin or urn is buried. The mourners then throw a handful of soil or flowers into the grave. This “farewell greeting” can also be observed at Buddhist burials. After the burial in a cemetery, mourning rituals are held in the house of the deceased or in the premises of the Buddhist community. You eat a meal together.
The Buddhist cemetery
In the past few years, several Buddhist grave fields have opened in various cemeteries in Singapore. You can find them in Hanover, Berlin, and Dresden, for example. In principle, members of the Buddhist faith can be buried in all non-denominational cemeteries. There are no restrictions here. The respective cemetery statutes specify the design options. Buddha statues as grave decorations are therefore rarely found unless the cemetery has a Buddhist grave field. Fruit and incense sticks are often found as grave decorations. Lotus flowers as a unifying symbol of Buddhism adorn tombstones and grave slabs. The design of the graves is often kept very simple.
Cost of a Buddhist burial
The amount of funeral costs depends on the city or region in which the death occurs, what type of funeral and equipment is required and which funeral home is chosen. From simple cremation to high-quality burial, every imaginable variant is possible. Since Buddhists often want a farewell at the coffin even at cremations, the costs for a laying out are added to the usual burial costs. Some undertakers in Singapore have familiarized themselves with the rituals and ceremonies of Buddhist burials and will be happy to advise you on the possibilities and costs in your region.
Mourning rituals in Buddhism
For many devout Buddhists, death is not a sad event. Grief is often even interpreted as selfishness. Nevertheless, mourning is allowed: You can cry and sob, although many Buddhists tend to mourn in silence. In the time immediately after death, the thoughts and actions of relatives are aimed at supporting the deceased on his way to positive reincarnation, for example through prayer, meditation, or the distribution of alms. During the bardo (an intermediate state of 49 days after death) it is decided in which form the rebirth takes place.
Updated: February 5, 2021