In the old times of Singapore, if the deceased was not able to have earth burial, it was considered as unfilial piety. Nowadays, with the rapid changes in the current society in Singapore, the method of burial has been changed from burial to cremation due to the limited space.
Now, the question in many people’s minds is how to handle the remains after the cremation? In Singapore, we have a few options to handle the remains:
- Scattering the cremated ashes at Sea or Inland Garden
- Placing the cremated remains in the Columbarium Niches
Scattering the cremated ashes at Sea or Inland Garden
Some people choose to scatter their cremation ashes to the Sea or Garden due to,
- It provides a sense of peace and being close to Nature. Many also consider it as a form of freedom and returning to Nature.
- An option to some who do not want to trouble their decedents to visit in every year.
- Budget consideration as it is an economical method.
For ash scattering at sea, one has to hire a boat that will take the family out on the water to do the deed. One could choose to carry the ashes in a scattering tube ($200) or select a bio-degradable urn ($175 upwards). Depending on the extent of the farewell ceremony, this could set you back between $80 and over $1,000.
For ash scattering at the inland garden, families who are interested in inland ash scattering services may book one-hour slots through NEA’s ePortal at www.eportal.nea.gov.sg. Alternatively, they may go to the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Office or Mandai Crematorium Office to book a slot. There is a fee of S$320 for the scattering of ashes at the garden. Once a booking is made, families will have to go to the Ash Collection Centre at Choa Chu Kang Crematorium or Mandai Crematorium. Cremated remains would be pulverised into fine ashes and given to family members in a one-time use canister at these centres.
Place the cremation ashes in the Columbarium Niches
Instead of sea or inland ash scattering, majority of Singaporean prefer to place the funerary urn in columbarium niches. The following are the reasons:
- Life will have ups and downs. During the difficult time, one would like to visit the columbarium niche of the deceased loved one to share and relieve their feelings so as to gain emotional support.
- Nowadays, most people are busy at their own errands in daily basis, having a columbarium to gather and pay respects becomes an important factor for family bonding.
- Most people, especially Singaporean Chinese, want their decedents always remember their “roots” by paying respect to their ancestors’ columbarium niches.
- Comparing to sea or inland ash scattering, most people believe that the deceased loved one will rest in peace as a whole by having all the cremated ashes placed in the columbarium niche.
There are two main types of columbarium in Singapore: public or private columbarium. Public columbarium is managed by the government and the niches are allocated based on a first-come-first-serve basis. Generally, the government-operated columbarium price per person is $500++ and family-style $900++. This price does not include marble plaque which may eventually cost over $2000.
Privately operated columbarium price ranges from $2000 to over $40,000, including single, double or family suite. The price is determined by the columbarium design, the row-level of the columbarium niche, the location, etc.
In summary, it is one’s decision on how to handle the cremated remains. One thing for sure is once the cremated remains are scattered at sea or inland garden, it is impossible for one to reverse the decision.
Author: KS Ang (District Service Director of Nirvana Memorial Garden)