Taoist Funeral Packages in Singapore: A Comprehensive Guide

Taoist funerals are influenced by Chinese cultures, the Cheena, Buddhism, Taoism, ancestral worship, and the Cultural Revolution. Funerals are conducted based on the Chinese calendar, which they call selecting the auspicious date, ancestral graves visit and grave maintenance, ancestral souls repatriation, prayer and ancestral world requesting, and pure living restoration. Quotes will be given upon inquiry based on the various requirements. A general guide will be from $3338.00 onwards. In 2001, HDB void deck and open space are not allowed for funerals. So funerals are mainly conducted in funeral parlors. Due to the economic evolution and the vast choice of funeral ways now, traditional and elaborate funerals are rarely practiced now. This creates a loss of tradition for the Chinese community. More and more families are now going back to the basic funeral, which is much simpler and cost-saving. Our group of experienced staff will explain and advise the best to accommodate the client’s requirements.

Understanding Taoist Funeral Traditions

The teachings of Taoist philosophy believe that the soul of the deceased must journey through the underworld and return to earth. It is a common misconception that the Taoist religion teaches about the concept of heaven and hell. In actual fact, the Chinese interpretation of the afterlife is the underworld, which is made up of 18 levels of hell and 10 courts of heaven. Civil officials are rewarded for their good deeds with a visit to the courts of hell and are then directed to heaven. Unfortunates are hastily tried and sent at once to the local underworld to serve out their term. The destiny of souls is to serve in the courts of heaven or at the nether regions before returning to earth in a new incarnation. This journey is not completed in a day and the family and friends of the deceased have a duty to assist the spirit by preparing deeds, which provide symbolic support. These acts will translate into merit, which may mitigate the punishment or embolden the soul in its passage. Such rituals include the offering of prayers and the performance of certain rites to ensure better future incarnation and the parents of daughters may arrange the marriage of a minor bride, thus sparing a youthful soul servitude in the nether regions. One of the important deeds is the arranging of a proper funeral or death anniversary. This is the occasion to illuminate and guide the spirit in the manner most familiar and comfortable. Meatless festivals celebrate the offering of spells to release ancestors or beings suffering in the nether regions. Such deeds of merit can be very intricate and differing according to local custom. With the passage of time, the descendants may not understand the meaning of the rites or the underlying philosophy. This often leads to the loss of such tradition and lapse of the Taoist religion.

First and foremost, it is imperative for one to understand what Taoism is before delving into its funeral traditions. Taoism is a religion which originated from China and is based upon the writings of Lao Tze, a writer who is well respected in Chinese history. His book called the “Tao Te Ching” is the basis of the Taoist religion and it teaches that everything is harmonious, living in tranquility and peace. Taoism is also closely related to the concept of Yin and Yang. Yin is the darker side of life and represents negativity, while Yang is the brighter side of life and represents positivity. The basis of Yin and Yang in Taoism is that one cannot exist without the other, and this further teaches the individual to be calm and collected in times of harmony or disharmony.

Importance of Funeral Packages

The Taoist view on life and death is that there is a time for each to occur. To die in old age is considered natural as the person has finished the course of their life. Middle age passing is considered normal and death in youth is considered an untimely death leaving much to fate or a karmic debt from past transgressions. This is the general aspect of death but it is also believed in more specific terms that is fated according to the life span of different individuals. Nevertheless, death is the separation of the body (p’ossu) and the soul (hun) and it is the duty of the living to provide a proper send-off for the deceased so as the soul may leave the world of the living and move onto its destined place in the afterlife.

Funerals for the Chinese are considered the most important occasion, even more vital than other festive events in a person’s life. As such, great emphasis is placed upon a person’s final departure from the physical world. This means that a good send-off for a loved one is imperative. A funeral done well to the Chinese should see that the deceased enjoys peace and serenity in his afterlife. It is for this reason that many Chinese believe that an improper funeral for their loved ones would result in the deceased haunting the family. This can take form as bad luck, illness or a series of unexplained happenings, etc. In this light, the importance of an effective and appropriate Taoist funeral cannot be understated.

Types of Taoist Funeral Packages

Some may opt for a premium funeral package. This is often popular with prominent and successful individuals. Although a Taoist funeral may compare with others as being straightforward, cost and little hustle, the wealthy may wish to show gratitude and filial piety to their deceased loved ones with a grandeur farewell. Such a package would be a lot more expensive and would feature services of the finest quality, often exceeding the standard rites. An Sothys Premium Funeral Services company offers a Taoist premium funeral package. This package can be extended up to a duration of 10 days with a consultant being present at every step. The funeral will feature top quality ceremonial products, free flow refreshments for guests and a professional sound system and instrumental background music for the entire duration of the funeral. This is a good example of how the funeral rites are still being practiced today, but with modernization. The package will also include an offering for the deceased to be made in a temple at a later date, baby bringing ceremonies and scattering of ashes at an overseas destination. Such rituals were unheard of in the past but traditions have evolved over time and have variations. These are often targeted to the premium package customers and are additional costs for further services from the monks and temple.

The standard funeral package will differ from company to company. It will usually include more services such as better quality and variety of ceremonial products and services. An example of this would be the type of flowers for decorations and prayer altars and the quality of the casket. The ceremonies and rituals will be conducted in a more elaborate way and a higher price will be offered for after funeral services such as the scattering of ashes. A noteworthy funeral company is Direct Funeral, who offers services from various religions all around Singapore. Their services also include a standard Taoist funeral package, at a higher cost. This package includes all the elements of a basic Taoist funeral but with the next level in quality and service at every step.

The Extra Mile Funeral is a local funeral company which offers 3 packages. Their basic Taoist funeral package includes the funeral arrangements such as booking the date, preparation of the prayer altar, decorations, encoffinment and a casket, transportation of the deceased, holding of funeral service, preparing for cremation, and will conclude with a small reception. Due to several cultural and demographic shifts, the need for a Taoist funeral has decreased in modern day Singapore. This could be seen as a transitional period to the diminished demand of funeral rites of the deceased.

A basic funeral package usually covers only the essentials. A Taoist funeral is typically 3, 5, 7 or 9 days long. The package will include help in booking the parlour and choosing a suitable date to start the wake. It will cover the necessary items for the prayer altar and decorations. Food for the monks, family and friends and an offering for the monks may be a separate cost. The funeral service itself includes prayer and chanting ceremonies. A burial or cremation ceremony will conclude the funeral. Assistance with the after funeral will be limited.

Basic Funeral Package

People who have confirmed claiming that it helps to take their minds off the bereaved situation. With some of the smaller companies, it is possible to find a funeral company that is able to cover all these services within the budget given. However, the majority will be faced with additional costs for some services or trades. A typical breakdown of expenses for this package would be around $600-$1500 on mortuary services, $500-$1000 of casket rental, the same for photo and wreath decorations, and another $1500 for services from a priest. Particularly with priests, who often only accept a fixed flat rate, plus a slightly higher or normal donation for the deceased’s well-being. Such a package may also have additional free services for the bereaved family, such as legal advice or counseling on death procedures.

Step 3: Services for the deceased. This is done through the burning of Joss sticks and Joss paper and saying of prayer by a priest. Usually, sessions are held for a few nights, during which guests will come and go. Usually, refreshments will be provided for guests.

Step 2: Wake Services, an altar table with a portrait or photograph of the deceased is set up. Ancestor tablets and prayer paper will be set up at the altar table, and a Joss paper is said to be hung outside the house to guide wandering spirits home.

Step 1: Pre-funeral services involve the washing, dressing, and casketing of the deceased. A casket with wreaths and a photo will normally be delivered to the wake location, usually a void deck pavilion or HDB common area.

A basic funeral for the Taoist can start from around $3000 onwards to $8000 depending on requirements. The main reason most Taoist families opt for funeral companies depends on a few factors. Although they can easily organize the funeral themselves, time and convenience are the most crucial elements during the bereaved period, given that family members are often distraught by the loss and are in no mood to be organizing the funeral. A basic funeral package usually includes services in the preparation of the wake and offering to the deceased and consists of the following phases.

It is widely known among the Chinese community that when it comes to funerals for a loved one, especially parents, most people would rather overspend just to ensure that the proper traditional customs are adhered to. Taoists, like the Buddhists, are mostly a non-secular religious group and are deeply rooted in many deep-rooted rituals and customs. Many are after ensuring that a proper send-off befits the life of the deceased, and it is for this reason that in recent years, more Taoist families are opting for funeral companies to take away most of the logistical headache during the bereaved period.

Standard Funeral Package

Timing – Although the package takes the same time period as our basic funeral package, the extra items and more elaborate nature of the Taoist funeral rites will mean that the high priest will visit the wake venue on more occasions than the basic package. This will be beneficial for the family who will interact with the high priest in deciding on the best arrangement for each prayer session and religious ritual step.

Location – This package provides an air-conditioned wake venue, as well as improved prayer banners and decorations to create a more comfortable and lavish environment. Ideal for those who wish to keep the wake venue cool and clean for those visiting to pay their last respects.

Quality – This package provides higher quality prayer items and improved versions of basic package items. For those who want the best for their loved ones.

This package offers a more elaborate and comfortable send-off for your loved ones. It includes everything in the basic funeral package, as well as an upgraded set of Taoist prayer items and an air-conditioned wake venue. It also includes a new set of clothes, shoes, underwear, and an additional towel to dress your loved one. A professional hairdo and makeup for the deceased to look their best; an offering of a Taoist robe to the deity; a set of Taoist prayer banners and a circular tablet to decorate the wake venue, and finally, a set of Taoist prayer items to send off the deceased during the funeral. Continuing on the kee zit, it is also made from a higher quality wood and is more ornate in design.

Premium Funeral Package

Usually, Taoists who are aged, of high social status and economic standing, have contributed significantly or achieved eminence in various undertakings during their lifetime or have practiced filial piety will hold a funeral of such scale for their deceased. This will be in line with the Chinese tradition and metaphysics principles to Feng Shui the cosmos with their kin and kind to repay karmic debts and to accumulate blessings for their kin and kind of past, present and future generations. This is to ensure a smooth sailing life with minimal obstacles, misfortunes and sufferings. This will not only create good affinity debts owed by the deceased to others but also benefiting the deceased with assessed benefits determined according to the Universal Laws.

The premium package consists of all the right stuff. For families who wish to hold a grand funeral for their deceased, this is the quintessential option. The package includes every requirement stated by the “grand master of the funeral” to send off the deceased on their journey in finding their next life. This is a very grand package and can range from $6000 – $20000 for a 3 – 5 day funeral. This option includes 2 options, a $20000 package, and a $6000 package. The only differences will be the quality of certain products and the quantity of certain products. All details and arrangements can be made with our funeral directors during the consoling of the funeral.

Customized Funeral Package

The customized funeral package is for those who desire the traditional style of our standard funeral package, but have additional or more specific requirements. This package allows a family to organise a funeral that comes closest to their ideal. It involves detailed discussions with our funeral consultants in order to assess the requests and to make the necessary arrangements. This can be done at the office or at the wake itself. With a larger scale of this package, the family has the option of upgrading it to include a specific date for the funeral, an example being the 5th, 7th or 9th day, or even construction of an ancestral hall to accommodate a Taoist prayer ceremony. With consultation, J.B. Nagar undertakers and services may make further alterations to the funeral package to best serve its customers. An example of a recent customer was a Buddhist with a terminally ill wife. He knew that it was her wish to have a Taoist funeral. At this mourning time, with both their sons living in USA, he wanted to construct small altars as time for prayers. After much deliberation with other family members, JB Nagar took a flexible approach and contracted several religious ministers to have occasion pray ceremonies throughout the 49-day funeral period. Such are the kind of customised cases, which JB Nagar takes much efforts to organise. All are welcome to contact our funeral consultants for further details. ECONSULTATION LINK.

Components of Taoist Funeral Packages

The quality of the casket is dependent on the family’s budget and willingness to spend. Undertakers will typically provide 3 options of varying quality and price with the final decision given to the family. Rental of the casket is also a possible option and some may opt for this to save costs. The funeral tablet is a wooden or stone tablet used to house the name of the deceased. This item is essential and it is said that the soul of the deceased lingers around the area of the tablet before departing to the afterlife.

Ritual performances are a significant part of the funeral process as they act as a way to send off the deceased and also to ensure that they don’t encounter any misfortunes in their afterlife. Common rituals include the “crossing of the bridge” and ceremonial recitations of Taoist scriptures. The more superstitious families may also engage in elaborate rituals such as Taoist opera performances to entertain the spirits and various song and dance performances. However, the availability of certain rituals is dependent on the type of funeral. In Singapore, funeral durations are often limited to 5 days and 4 nights due to government regulations, and thus the availability of time and space constraints may cause some families to forgo certain rituals.

Funeral supplies comprise of all the items necessary to prepare the deceased before their final send off. These include items such as oils, paper offerings, ritual items (see ritual performances and ceremonies), and the setting up of a home altar. Paper offerings and an altar are typically prepared by the family while the oils and ritual items are provided by the undertakers. Home altars are typically set up in the residences of the next-of-kin or descendants of the deceased. Equipment required for the funeral consists of the cremation vehicle that will transport the body to and from the cremation site and also the necessary staff to manage the funeral site.

3.2. Funeral Supplies and Equipment

The funeral will typically be held at the void decks between the blocks, or at the nearest funeral parlour. Air-conditioned wakes are often held at funeral parlours rather than void decks as Taoist funerals require the soul of the deceased to be present during the wake. Tentage and stages are typically set up at void decks in order to provide an area for the funeral group to conduct their activities and also as seating area for the guests. Funeral parlours will typically handle setting up the funeral site although the family members may also customize the setup.

3.1. Venue and Setup

These are the 4 most common items within a Taoist funeral package.

Venue and Setup

Setup involves setting up an altar on which a photograph of the deceased is placed and a pair of wooden tablets inscribed with the posthumous name are erected on a pedestal¬†with one tablet on each side. The photograph is placed such that it is facing outwards from the altar and towards the incoming guests. The layout of the tablets and photograph is shown below. The altar is placed in front of the venue to allow guests to perform rites at their arrival and before departure from the wake. The layout of the photograph, tablets and altar is such that there are no objects or furniture directly above them. This is to show respect to the deceased by not having anything ‘above’ the deceased. On the altar, dishes of rice, tea, salt, water, soup and a pair of candles and incense are placed. Tables and chairs are arranged in the venue to cater to guests and to facilitate a suitable area for performing rites. A ‘reserved’ seating area must be allocated for monks and ritual performers who are conducting rites at the wake.” This section provides detailed information about the venue and setup of the wake for a deceased person.

“Venue refers to the location where the funeral wake is to be held. The venue must not be situated close to a hospital or a medical centre as such places are considered unlucky. The wake should not be held in the deceased’s house as well. If the deceased had died of an illness such that it had caused much discomfort and pain to the deceased, conducting the wake at the deceased’s house is considered inauspicious for the places will be filled with bad ‘qi’ and bad memories. It is preferable to hold the wake at void decks of HDB blocks or funeral parlours. The location of the wake is dependent on the status and occupation of the deceased. For death of elderly and less educated people, the funeral wake should be held at void deck as it is the most comfortable place for the family members and friends. For the death of a high status individual, it is more honourable and befitting to hold the wake at funeral parlours. Much consideration must be put into the selection of venue so as to facilitate convenience for the family members, relative and friends of the deceased.

Funeral Supplies and Equipment

Funeral supplies and equipment are of significant importance to a Taoist funeral. These items are essential for a smooth and successful funeral. They are used in rituals, ceremonies, processions, and in aiding the deceased. Various materials such as rice, beans, and pencils are used to count the number of days after the death of the deceased family member: 49 days in cases of adults, and fewer for children. This is done to pinpoint the exact date in the lunar calendar when certain rituals and ceremonies should be performed. Items for a soul settling ritual (An Chung) consist of a basin, towel, mirror, comb, and scissors. These are commonly used in most Chinese households and are used to prepare the deceased’s spirit to witness a ceremony. The period of preparation varies as some may let a week go by, others a few weeks, and some even up to 100 days. A more complete set of equipment can be obtained from a funeral supplies shop and is usually overseen by the funeral director. It consists of paper effigies of material ranging from money to houses and cars, a simple but slightly modernized method of maintaining the tradition of giving these items to the deceased for use in the afterlife. Paper effigies of modern items such as mobile phones and credit cards are becoming more common and reflect changes in society. This set will also include items for a prayer session of any of the three categories, these consist of incense sticks of two different types, candles, and an incense and candle holder. These items are also used for a realignment and redirection ritual (Chiao-Tou). In cases where a funeral director is not hired, the family may wish to obtain an equipment set on their own. This can be achieved by visiting a funeral supplies shop, of which there are quite a few in Singapore. Items can also be obtained from Chinatown and in some cases, supermarkets. Some families may even make certain items for themselves. A less complete set would consist of only items required for specific rituals and ceremonies.

Ritual Performances and Ceremonies

After concluding, the family members and relatives escort the casket out of the home and place it at the foot of the altar so that the casket may take in the souls of the living who are sending it off. This is then followed by a ceremony conducted by the priests that is designed to attach the soul of the deceased to the casket. This stage is often the most emotionally influential stage of the funeral, as it feels as though the deceased is leaving home for good. Finally, the casket is carried back to the altar indoors and night prayers are conducted before the casket is finally moved to its casket-holding place and temple prayers are being conducted over 49 days.

On the day of the death, a death altar is set up to house the photograph of the deceased and a funeral date is set. The funeral date can only be set after consulting a Chinese almanac to find a suitable date. On the funeral day, an altar is set up outside the home of the deceased. Family members and relatives gather around this altar, which usually consists of three kneelers prepared for three priests who are conducting the ceremony. The altar is used for prayers and rituals by the priests and is also used to welcome the soul of the deceased.

This is the most significant part of a Taoist funeral because it is when the souls of the deceased are “sent off”. There are a few steps involved in a Taoist funeral that usually span over a period of 49 days.

Casket and Pedestal Funeral Tablet

Pedestal funeral tablets usually come in sets of 3, to represent heaven, earth, and man. The size of the tablets may vary, depending on the status of the deceased at the time of death. A highly respected community leader or someone who has contributed tremendously to society may have very large tablets. These tablets are usually placed in the family ancestral hall after the funeral has come to an end. It is to be transferred to the niche after the first exhumation and reburial.

Casket plays the principal role in blessing the deceased with a good afterlife and to remove bad luck from the family. Specific caskets, according to the varying dialect groups, are used for the purpose of looking after the well-being of the deceased in their respective afterlives. Accompanying the casket is the Soul or Spirit Tablet. It is an inscribed wooden tablet commemorating the deceased. It is placed in the family ancestral hall after the funeral and then taken to subsequent exhumations and reburials. This tablet is often declared the deceased himself. It is used to avoid disturbing the deceased’s spirit, which may cause harm to the family.

Choosing the Right Taoist Funeral Package

In terms of budget, a normal Taoist funeral in Singapore can range from $2000 to $9000, depending on the type of funeral to be held. This could probably be the most visible and impactful disparity between the various kinds of Taoist funerals. The cost also varies between different funeral service providers. With that being said, it is necessary for the family to have a clear idea of their budget. This is to prevent overspending on an elaborate funeral which might lead to financial strain on the family. Usually, the service providers will offer the family a package according to their budget. Some providers may be flexible in the type of services to be provided if the family’s budget is on the lower side.

Assessing Budget and Requirements

First and foremost, the allocation of items will depend on whether you have a Taoist religious funeral or a non-religious funeral. Items marked with a (*) are only applicable to Taoist religious funerals. Step 1 is to consider whether the deceased will be buried or cremated, as this affects other required items such as a casket, urn, burial plot, etc. It is also highly recommended to donate the body to the National University of Singapore (NUS) for a no-cost cremation or burial, while providing a valuable lesson to students and contributing to medical research.

Before providing a list of your requirements to funeral service providers, use the following chart to itemize the products and services that you’re considering. This will help ensure that you get what you’re paying for. Be sure to get a copy of this list from the funeral service provider after the funeral to ensure that you were provided with everything that was promised.

When choosing the right Taoist funeral package, budget is a crucial factor. It is important to consider what you can afford without the funeral costs causing additional financial strain on family members. Assess the requirements of the funeral by asking yourself the following questions: How will your family feel if spending too much on a funeral deprives them of taking a trip or buying a home?

Consulting with Funeral Service Providers

It is important to find a provider that understands what is needed and why it is needed in Taoist funeral rites.

A lot of people these days are just interested in getting it over and done with and would choose to hire PRCs or makeshift a package themselves because they are cheaper. A lot of the unauthorized PRCs usually provide a range of rituals and services influenced by other religions or their cultural understanding that are in contrast to what is actually written in the scriptures. If there is a conflict in practices, then there will necessarily be a non-attainment or specific results and sometimes even resemblance of anti-thesis.

So how do you choose the right Taoist funeral package? Some of the Chinese funeral rituals and traditions can be very overwhelming, especially to the younger generations. Always try to keep in mind that the main goals of the fleeting world are attainment of happiness and avoidance of suffering. Therefore, in generating the potential for future happiness, it is better to choose knowledge and understanding of what is prescribed in Taoist scriptures so that the rituals conducted will actually deliver the proper results.

Considering Cultural and Personal Preferences

Strict traditional Taoist funerals may not suit the modern follower, with its elaborate and complex rites. After consulting with a professional, some people may find it suitable to simplify the procedure of a higher-tiered package or request specific rites conducted without the necessity of a more expensive package. What’s most important is understanding the significance of each custom and how best to adhere to it, pursuing the best possible outcome. This can be done through discussion with the overseeing priest or fortune teller. They will be able to outline which customs and rites can be omitted or simplified, and the possible repercussions.

A traditional Taoist funeral in Singapore is an intricate affair with myriad traditional customs. Each of these customs is symbolic and contains deep meaning. The primary focus, however, is to provide a means of helping the deceased navigate posthumous life in the netherworld, reaching eventual reincarnation. Although these rituals and customs may seem peculiar to a foreigner, with challenges to customary practice in today’s modern society, it’s important for the family to weigh the significance of adherence to tradition.

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