Before visiting a Chinese funeral in Singapore, there are a few things to prepare. Some of them include dressing appropriately, and being aware of what to say to the bereaved family. One thing that you also shouldn’t forget to do is to bring along some cash.
At Chinese funerals in Singapore, it is customary for guests to give the hosts a token sum of money. However, there is always the lingering question of how much to give. What if you forgot to bring money? What is an appropriate amount to give? To understand more about the practice of giving condolence money, read on.
Why we give money at funerals
Giving monetary benefits or donations at funerals is not a strange thing in Singapore. It is a tradition that has been practiced for a long time. The Chinese call such contributions ‘pek kim’ or ‘bai jin’, which translates to ‘white gold’. As opposed to red packets, which are in vibrant celebratory colours, the white of ‘bai jin’ is a colour used for mourning.
Typically, the money is intended to aid the bereaved family tide through the difficult time after the loss of a loved one. This includes covering the costs of the funeral package, cremation, and other miscellaneous fees related to a death.
The usual practice for giving such a donation is to place it in a white envelope. You then pass the envelope to a member of the host family, who is more often than not situated at a reception desk. The receiver will then record your name and amount given. This is to keep a transparent record of all transactions made.
If you do not have a white envelope on hand, it is also acceptable to pass the cash directly to the person manning the counter. These days, some also accept electronic cash transfers.
Is it compulsory that you give condolence money?
In some sense, it is not compulsory. You can still attend the funeral without giving any money, and most people won’t come after you for failing to do so. However, most people familiar with the tradition will stick to it, because it is seen as an act of kindness. Especially for people of the Buddhist faith, giving money at a Buddhist funeral to a family in need is encouraged as it is a compassionate act that can give them good karma.
In certain cases, however, you may encounter the funeral of a wealthy family. Using your own discretion, you may choose to replace a monetary donation with a condolence gift instead, like a flower wreath. Some families choose not to accept monetary donations at all, or will declare their intention to donate all condolence money to a designated charity.
How much should you give if you decide to do so?
The right amount to give is always a tricky one. Generally, it would depend on factors like your closeness to the deceased or family, your own financial ability, and the family’s perceived need. The most common minimum amount is $30.
From there, you can increase the amount if you’d like, as long as the initial digits make up an odd number. This is because even numbers are considered auspicious in the Chinese culture – and funerals are anything but auspicious.
By understanding the intentions behind giving condolence money, you’ll have a better idea of how much to give, and will be able to give with a willing heart.
With 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, you can decide how affordable or lavish of a Buddhist funeral package to go for. Let us guide you in planning for any funeral arrangements you need.