A Helpful Guide On Attending Different Kinds Of Funerals

In Singapore, funerals are quite a common occurrence, and many of us may have had to attend them because of the passing of an older family member or someone else that we know. We often know the general rule of attending funerals, such as not wearing clothing that is sloppy or skimpy as they are inappropriate. However, did you know that various religions have different cultural etiquettes that attendees have to follow when they attend different funeral services in Singapore?

Let this article provide some insights for you on the various funerals that happen in Singapore and what you should do if you attend them.

Muslim Funerals

What goes on in the funeral 

In a Muslim family, the body of someone who has passed on will usually be brought to their home and subsequently buried within twenty-four hours. This is to avoid the decomposition process from being viewed. After being brought home, the body is bathed to get rid of any visible dirt and wrapped in white burial cloth by selected family members and relatives. This process is done by family members or relatives of the same gender as the departed.

Subsequently, prayers will be recited for the body either at a mosque or the home of the departed. After that, the body will then be carried in a coffin by close family members and friends and taken to the Muslim cemetery in Singapore called Pusara Aman for burial.

Etiquette to observe

 When they attend a Muslim funeral service, attendees should look for a member of the departed’s family that they know and make introductions. They should also ensure that they are not in the way, as family members may be occupied with funeral preparations and mourning the loss of their loved one. For Muslim attendees, they may join in with the prayers, while non-Muslim guests may wait outside the home, or sit and listen to the prayers being recited.

Attendees of the funeral may also give a contribution in the form of money should they wish to. As the contribution is considered a gift, the amount is not specific and is normally dependent on the relationship of the giver to the family of the departed.

Once you have met the family and paid your respect, you may leave the funeral as you will not be expected to stay. The family will normally hire a bus to bring close friends and relatives of the departed to Pusara Aman. If there is enough space to accommodate you, you can choose to follow along too.

The right time to visit 

Information regarding a loved one’s death is usually disseminated through text messages or WhatsApp by the relatives and friends of the family. It is advised that attendees visit the departed in their home at the noted time in the messages.

Hindu Funerals

What goes on in the funeral

The departed’s body will firstly be embalmed and then brought to the funeral parlour or the home of the family. The departed’s body will then rest for two or three days before the funeral ceremony begins, and it’s highly important that the funerals not be held on a Saturday or Friday, according to superstition.

The family will also charter buses to head to the crematorium should attendees wish to follow along.

Etiquette to observe

Hindu funerals consist of several parts. Firstly, an open casket will be held in the home of the departed and is done two or three days before the body is sent to the crematorium. Attendees may view the departed’s body when they arrive at the funeral service. Hindus consider the body sacred during this process. They will present flowers and touch their feet to receive blessings. The flowers that are given to the departed are a cultural practice, so non-Hindu attendees may give them without prayers. Non-Hindu attendees can also pay their respects without going through the abovementioned ritual.

After paying respects, attendees can then give their condolences to the departed’s family.

When the day of the cremation arrives, the body will be taken down to the common area or the void deck to allow more people to see the departed one final time. In addition, certain religious rituals are held. During the funeral procession, attendees are advised to let family and friends of the departed to be as close to the body as they can.

Monetary contributions of any value can be given to the family to assist them in covering the costs of holding the funeral service. Money can be placed in an envelope and given it to a family member whenever you can, as the family members are usually busy during the funeral ceremony.

The right time to visit 

For those who wish to attend the funeral, they may contact the family members for the date and time to attend, or view the obituary section in the newspapers. Usually, the time when the hearse heads to the crematorium are also listed so that attendees can arrive a few hours beforehand. Additionally, attendees are advised to pay their respects and condolences to the departed’s family before the final day to avoid the crowd and return on the final day too.

You may also visit the departed’s family a week or two weeks after the actual funeral ceremony to pay your respects if you are not able to make it to the funeral service.

Chinese Funerals

What goes on in the funeral

Families will usually hold a funeral wake for their departed loved one that may last for three, five, or seven days. This is because odd-number days symbolises that death only occurs once in the family over a long period of time. Funeral wakes are also held in the homes of the family, funeral parlours, or void decks.

If a funeral wake is held at a void deck, A Taoist funeral service or Buddhist funeral service can be recognised by yellow or white tentage, while a Catholic and Christian one shows a white tentage instead.

Chistian and Catholic Funerals

For Roman Catholics funeral service or Christian funeral service, a funeral mass or service is conducted on the same day as the cremation, which is usually held after the funeral wake. Attended by family members, relatives & close friends.

Etiquette to observe

When attendees arrive at the funeral wake, they greet the family and tell them that they would like to pay their respects to the departed. If there is an open casket during the wake, they may view the body too. In a Taoist or Buddhist wake, attendees can light one joss-stick and bow to the departed, or give three bows instead. At a Catholic or Christian wake, attendees can recite prayers or give short parting words to the departed.

Attendees who are not of the same faith or are not close to the family of the departed may not have to perform these rituals during the wake.

Donation of money and condolence gifts

A common practice for every religion, friends and relatives of the family can choose to make cash donations to assist the grieving family with the funeral costs. Donations can be deposited into a donation box or handed to a family member. They should also write their name and amount of donation in a designated book that is given to them by the family or provided along with the donation box.

Different from Chinese weddings, the amount of donation that is given depends on your closeness with the family and how much you can afford. Blankets and wreaths can also be used as condolence gifts.

During the wake, a plate of peanuts, melon seeds, sweets, is usually presented along with a red thread. This thread is used to ward off bad luck that can come because of a funeral wake. As you return from a funeral service, loosely tie the red thread around a finger and allow it to slip off before reaching home.

Some funeral service providers like us will also prepare “cleansing water” mixed with some loose flowers for attendees to cleanse themselves of the inauspicious luck before returning home.

The right time to visit

It is recommended that attendees contact the departed’s family before visiting as, during the funeral period, the family will have to stay awake through the night to keep vigil. Close friends of the grieving family may also help them by staying later into the night to keep the family members awake and provide company.

When attendees leave a funeral, it is also advised that they should not say ‘再见’, which means ‘see you again’ in Chinese, saying 再见 is considered inauspicious as it sounds like see you again at another funeral when said at a wake.

With four generations in the business, Embrace Funeral Services provides professional and solemn funeral services in Singapore. We are the experts when it comes to knowing every aspect that is involved in a funeral ceremony, and we will assist grieving families with care and compassion as we understand the difficult time that they are going through.

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