In funerals, people hold their cultures and beliefs about death and funerals closely as they carry out the relevant rites for the final send-off. For someone who is experiencing them for the first time, it can be an eye-opener to be exposed to these customs and rituals. If you ever had to attend a Buddhist funeral, now is a good time to learn the basics so you’ll know what to expect.
Modest dressing is the core of Buddhist teaching. When attending a Buddhist funeral, or any funeral on that matter, it is essential to put on an outfit that befits the mood of the situation. Colour is also a crucial factor to consider when choosing your dressing. White is popular in Buddhist funerals, but you can also put on black-coloured clothes. Flashy and bright colours, such as red, are not recommended as it symbolises happiness.
Many Buddhist funerals in Singapore take place in a funeral parlour or under the HDB void deck. Mourners are allowed to pay respect to the deceased and commiserate with the family in a ceremony called the wake. During the wake, a portrait of the deceased person will be put in front of the casket. An image of Buddha may also be placed near the altar in accordance to Buddhist tradition. The altar will have candles and incense burning. Family members and visitors will pay their respects by offering a lit joss stick and bowing to the deceased. But if you prefer not to do so for any personal reason, you may bow for a few seconds to pay your respects.
Burial and cremation are acceptable in Buddhism. For the latter, monks may be present to lead the chanting at the crematorium. Once the remains are collected by the family, it can be kept in an urn, enshrined in a columbarium, or scattered at sea.
Gifts, cards, and donations
Guests are encouraged to send sympathy gifts and donations in Buddhist funerals. You can also send white floral arrangements or wreaths to convey your condolences. For monetary tokens, place the cash in a white envelope before handing it over to the family members of the deceased. This can go a long way in helping to alleviate the financial weight of the funeral expenses and costs they have to bear.
When attending Buddhist funeral services, proper etiquette is mandatory. Dressing appropriately and participating in the rituals during the funeral proceedings reflect the utmost respect to the deceased and the bereaved family members. For guests who are not of the Buddhist faith, they may quietly observe the rituals and stand or sit as directed.
As a funeral company, 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Service aims to help grieving families through the funeral arrangement process. You can find a full range of Buddhist casket services that suit your preferred values, traditions and practices. Buddhist funeral practices can vary based on individual preference, so it is always best to work with an experienced funeral director to let your wishes known ahead of time.