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When someone dies, Taoists believe that it is crucial for the right rituals to be performed for a number of reasons: raise the soul of the departed from descending to hell, have good spirits safeguard the soul and protect the bereaved family, and appease/ward off the evil spirits.

Taoist funeral rites and rituals can still be hard to navigate especially when the family is unsure of it. Hence, having a knowledgeable funeral company to work with is extremely beneficial. The funeral can go on as planned, and the funeral director is able to offer advice and guidance on the relevant rituals for a Taoist funeral service.

It is common to have Taoist priests involved in the funeral to help with chanting and prayers. We explore the role they play and the purpose they bring to the funeral.

Maintain order and harmony

In Taoism, it is generally believed that there must be peace for a soul to prevent the dead from lingering on with the living. Harmony and order must be maintained in every aspect of one’s social life and in the entire cosmos – which belong to one organic whole. Everything in existence has a correct place in the right order of things. When death occurs, this symbolises a disruption in the balance and the need for order is important, which is re-established through performing funeral rites.

During the funeral wake

Families typically hold the wake in a Taoist funeral parlour or at the HDB void deck. During this time, Taoist priests are involved in chanting scriptures for the deceased. In the backdrop, loud sounds of musical instruments such as drums, flutes and cymbals area heard – this practice is believed to uplift the soul and assist its ascension into heaven.  The most senior priest will light a fire which encircles 9 pieces of tiles – representing 9 levels of hell – and crush them to free the soul trapped in hell.

A Taoist priest will take his seat on a lotus-shaped chair and chant fervently as an act of penance for the deceased and to absolve any sufferings, so the deceased can make their way to spiritual enlightenment. This act signifies the Goddess of Mercy, often pictured sitting on a similar lotus seat.

The funeral set up

A typical Taoist funeral service set up will include Taoist priest chanting, Taoist decoration and backdrop (Kwan Peng), floral wreaths, lanterns & lantern bearers on funeral day and offerings such as paper house and gold mountains for burning.

Depending the dialect group, Chinese Taoist funeral traditions and services can vary significantly. At 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, we provide Taoist and Buddhist funeral packages to provide families with comprehensive services to meet their unique needs when it comes to sending off their beloved ones.