Thursday, June 21, 2012

A Chinese Funeral (Buddhist) @Singapore Casket

Our family was at a loss when my father-in-law passed away. It was 1.23 am on a Sunday morning and we needed to have the body collected by 4.30 am before the hospital placed it in a freezer in the mortuary. It would then take at least 10 hours of paper work to retrieve Papa's body.

Luckily we contacted Singapore Casket and they did their best to help us by collecting Papa's body around 5am. It was sent to the funeral parlour for cleaning and embalming.

In discussation with a Funeral Advisor

The family members gathered at Singapore Casket where a Funeral Advisor was assigned to us. He guided us through key decisions and make arrangements for the funeral to help ease our grief.

Surprisingly, there are more of the traditions and superstitions about my culture that I was not aware of. Not being superstitious plus I am a Christian, I followed many of them out of respect for my beloved Papa.

Selecting a coffin

Depending on how much one is willing to fork out for a funeral, there are several packages available from Singapore Casket. Although we did not opt for an extravagant package, the estimated cost for our 3-day package is around S$30,000. *gulp*

Expect that EVERY THING costs money. And prepare lots of red packets (cash tokens of appreciation) :P

Choosing a pearl

Chris had to choose a shiny pearl from the tray of tiny ones as Papa would have one placed on his lips. Why? According to the staff , "so his descendents will prosper". Really!?

I thought to the Chinese, the pearl is a symbol of immortality, wisdom. purity?

When the coffin was moved into the room, everybody present had to look away as it is believed that looking at it is disrespectful. A monk led the family members to chant Buddhist sutras.

Different mourning patches are worn on the left sleeve of each immediate family members, indicating their relationship to the deceased.

Incinerator for the paper money

Candies, peanuts and melon seeds for visitors to snack on. Each visitor takes home a red string as a good blessing.

Dinner and supper provided for all visitors

An offering of vegetarian dishes for Papa

Food has to be offered to Papa every morning, noon and evening. This is to make sure that Papa is full and not hungry before he embarks on the journey.

Every morning, we have to prepare a basin of water "for Papa to wash his face and squeeze toothpaste on his toothbrush so he could clean his teeth." 

Seeing the disbelief on my face, the funeral assistant reminded me that "this will be the last two days of your life to do this for him." Hearing that, I immediately felt ashamed for even resisting doing this. 

Burning loads of "yin paper money" so Papa could have money to spend in the other world.

We bought a paper house with paper servants and paper furniture to be burned as offerings.  The paper effigies represent material goods that Papa could take with him to the afterlife.

Wads of “yin paper money” would be placed around the paper house before it is burnt. The “yin paper money” is expected to be used to bribe guards and officials in the other world. :P

The Chinese believe that it is extremely important to make the deceased comfortable in the afterlife. Once the dead ancestors are well-taken care of, their descendents will enjoy harmony and prosperity.

Final send off for Papa

As Singapore Casket took care of most of the funeral arrangements, we were able to attend to guests and other more pressing matters.

Singapore Casket Company (Pte) Ltd
131 Lavender Street Singapore 338737

Tel : 6293 4388 (24-hour service)
Fax : 6296 5993

Nearest MRT Station : Lavender

Available Carparks : Tyrwhitt Road, Home Road, Foch Road and Eminent Plaza


  1. Deepest condolences to your family for the lost of your love one, may he RIP.

  2. Extending my heartfelt sympathy for the demise of your FIL.

    I had many times attended a Chinese Bhuddist funeral and had noticed those various paper paraphernalias. It's only now that I understand the meaning of those. Thanks for sharing all these.

    God bless!

  3. Sorry about your loss.

  4. My condolence to you and family. I never knew there were so many Chinese traditions and superstitions, especially the part about the pearl and the toothbrush. Very interesting, but makes sense too.

    1st time commenting here btw, finally.. after such a long time card dropping here silently :)

  5. I am sorry for your loss. My condolences to you and your family. I have not heard of a pearl to put on the lips, but I have seen coins. Interesting traditions that I am glad you explained.

  6. The funeral with preparations was very interesting to read and it sounds like your Father In Law got a wonderful send off! I go to the Asian stores in Central California to buy their pretty paper and money for my craft projects not knowing how they might be used in Asia.

  7. My condolences for the loss of your father.

  8. my condolence, I did not know the pearl custom. Is it real pearl?

    Was at Kovan area and saw a big funeral wake, I was in the car, and managed to take just one no good shot.

  9. Funeral prep for Chinese can be really pricey yes? Def have to spend a few thousand dollars on the casket. ;)

    We sent off B's grandmother to rest in peace last year with a whole bunch of stuff too including a nice house, washing machine and a maid it seems! :)

  10. My condolence!

    It is very interesting to know everyone's custom's and traditions. I find it very informative. Thank you for sharing.