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Customs of Buddhists Funeral Ceremony: Do’s and Don’ts

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Chinese Buddhists in Singapore

The Buddhist community in Singapore varies depending on the location and by cultural origins and ethnic. Many families incorporate other religious beliefs into their Buddhist funeral rites, while others adhere to strictly Buddhist traditions.

Fundamentally, a Buddhist funeral is a simple ceremony that takes place at the deceased’s home, a funeral home, or a Buddhist temple. There are no formal guidelines, but you can expect prayer and meditation, sermons, and eulogies.

So if you are going to a Buddhists funeral service in Singapore, make sure you familiarize yourself with Buddhist tradition:

Dress Code

Mourners should wear white rather than black clothing to symbolize their grief and seriousness. The family wears white, and friends may wear black attire. Japanese Buddhist mourners should ideally choose black, whereas others may wear white.

Do not wear bright colours or something that is a display of your wealth. Also, the ceremony may require you to kneel on a cushion for prayer, so choose your Buddhist funeral attire mindfully. 

Appropriate Behaviour During Visitation

When you arrive at the funeral or wake, make sure you proceed quietly to the altar. Pay respect to the deceased and the family with a slight bow in front of the casket with your hands folded. You may pause for a quiet moment of reflection if so inclined.

Often monks conduct Buddhist funeral rites. If monks are leading the funeral, follow their behaviour, if they stand, you should stand, too. Monks or other Buddhists perform sermons, chanting, and eulogies. There may be a group meditation as well. Join the chanting or sit quietly. The service will take about one hour.

After A Buddhist funeral

A Buddhist funeral ceremony may include a reception depending on the specific traditions and beliefs of the deceased and the family. If there is one, you will be invited to pay your respects at the reception. 

Traditionally, the Buddhists funeral ceremony take place on the third, seventh, 49th and 100th day after the death, depending on the discretion of the bereaved.

Sending Flowers

You can make a donation to a designated charity in the deceased’s name. Depending on what is acceptable, you can gift vegetarian food or consider sending flowers. You may also bring the flowers to the funeral and place them on the altar as a form of condolence to the family.

If you send flowers, avoid red flowers as these signify the colour of joy in Buddhism. Instead, send white flowers to the bereaved family. Follow these etiquettes when visiting a Buddhist funeral.