What you should know about a Chinese Funeral in Singapore
The performance of funeral rituals can also be seen as an extension of Chinese social ethics. For example, xiao or filial piety is often the reason given by the Chinese for the performance of funeral rituals. This role of xiao can be seen in the idea being present in practically all aspects of ancestral rituals, serving as a constant reminder to the descendants.
- When a Chinese man is near death, all the family members are summoned to his deathbed. It is considered an unfilial act not to be at the deathbed of one’s parent.
- Friends and relatives are notified of the death either through word of mouth or via an obituary notice in the newspapers.
- As longevity is highly valued, it is a Chinese traditional practice to add 3 or 5 years to the deceased’s age.
- During the funeral, special garments in different colours are worn by the family members of the deceased. The colours of white, black, blue and green are used to denote the relationship of the mourners to the deceased, eg white and black represents the sons and daughters, blue represent the grandchildren and green represents the great-grandchildren.
- The funeral wakes range from 3 to 7 days and are mostly held at the void deck of the block where the deceased stay or at funeral parlours. The wakes are always held for an odd number of days because even numbers are associated with joyous occasions.
- Wakes are held to enable friends and relatives to pay their last respects to the deceased. On arrival, the more traditional Chinese will light a single joss-stick and bow to the deceased, or bow 3 times without the joss-sticks.
- It is also a practice for friends and relatives to send wreaths or making cash contributions to the bereaved family. Cash contributions are put in white envelopes, thus giving rise to them being termed as bai jin (white gold)
- Visitors are expected to dress in sombre colours when attending a wake. They are given red threads or red packets containing a coin to ensure a safe journey home. They are supposed to leave quietly, without saying goodbye to the deceased’s family.
- The deceased’s family is expected to keep all-night vigils during the wake.
- On the final night of the wake, religious specialists (Buddhist monks or nuns or Toaist priests or priestesses) are engaged to conduct the funeral rites. The family members are required to attend the rituals, unless it is a taboo for the person to do so.
- The funeral procession is normally headed by a band of musicians to frighten away malicious spirits lurking around the funeral site
- The cortege forms behind the hearse, with sons and daughters in the first row, followed by other family members.
- The procession will walk for a short distance as a final gesture of farewell before boarding vehicles to proceed to the graveyard or crematorium