After the Buddhist funeral rite on the last night, there will be a funeral possession ceremony on the following day when the casket is sealed, loaded onto the hearse, and then transferred to the crematorium.
In the previous article, we learnt that cremation is a common Buddhist practice. This is because cremation allows the soul to leave the physical body, enters the transition state, before journey into the next life. In this article, we will explain the steps to on managing one’s ashes and what factors that will constitute a good place to keep our departed’s family members ashes.
The Steps After Cremation
#1 An Ling (or called “49days Setup”)
On the last day of the funeral ceremony, and at the same day immediate after the deceased is cremated at Mandai Crematorium, the family member will take the deceased’s incense holder and photo to Nirvana Memorial Garden, and place the incense holder and photo in the An Ling worshipping suite for the next 49 days. It only takes 15 minutes to setup the An Ling praying space.
#2 Collection of Ashes
The private columbarium staff or funeral services staff will assist the family members of the deceased, in collection of the ashes. For mandai crematorium, the collection will usually be on the same day (late afternoon) if the cremation is before 12pm. If the cremation happens after 12pm, the collection will be on the next day morning.
The ashes will then be placed inside an urn, which is a vase to collect the ashes. The cost of an urn varies depending on the material, shapes, colours, and sizes.
#3 The Departure Ceremony
After the ashes are collected, the family members will then follow the private columbarium staff or the funeral services staff to the columbarium. There, they will conduct the “Departure Ceremony” which is uniquely organized by Nirvana Memorial Garden. The whole ceremony takes about seven minutes, so that family members could pray for blessings for the deceased.
#4 Installation of Urn into Niche
After the Departure Ceremony, the urn is then transferred to the designated niche in Nirvana columbarium. This will be the sacred final resting place for the dearly departed.
#5 Ji-Ling (49 Days Mourning Period)
In Buddhism, we believe that the departed individual will spend 49 days after death, in a transition state before reborning into a new life. Ritual prayers need to be sent to the departed individual every 7th day of the 49 days mourning period. This is to protect the departed individual from evil spirit as well as to guide him or her on their path into the next life or Nirvana. For all clients of Nirvana columbarium, ji-ling ritual services will be prepared for their departed loved ones at no-charge.
#6 Chai-Ling (Demolition of “49days Setup”)
At the 49th day of Ji-Ling, also known as weiqi尾七, this will be the time when rebirth begins. Family members will hold chanting ceremonies and demolition ceremonies in the sanctuary to bring the spirits of the deceased back to the ashes. If the family has prepared the Spirit Table (or called Memorial Tablet or Ancestral Tablet), the ceremony of raising the Spirit Tablet will be carried out at the same time on this day.
Ashes Management – Depending on the Wishes of the Departed
It is important to let one’s closed family member or relative know how we want our ashes to be managed after cremation. Today, we heard about sea burial and inland burial where the ashes of the departed are scattered into the vast open seas or scattered into a garden of trees at NEA approved ash scattering facilities.
Though it might sound cool or romantic to do such kinds of burials, it might be inconvenient for family members or loved ones who wish to pray or pay respect to the departed. With NEA’s approval, one can also place the ashes of their departed loved ones at home. The best option is to place the urn in a columbarium as it is a sacred final resting place for family members to remember, pray, and pay respect to.
So now let’s look at the seven factors in choosing a columbarium. Shall we?
Seven Factors in Choosing a Columbarium for Buddhist Devotees
In fengshui perspective, we need to look at the positioning of the columbarium, whether it is in a location with good flow of qi that will ensure tranquillity for the departed, and good fortune for the family members.
Next, choose a columbarium that provides a conducive, spacious, and comfortable environment for individuals to pray and pay respect to their departed loved ones.
Level of the Niches
Usually in a columbarium, the niches are arranged in different levels. The most expensive and popular ones is usually on the eye-level niches. While the bottom levels or high levels niches are usually less expensive, they also have their own advantages. For the low-level niches, it is for children and grandchildren to show their filial piety by kneeling while doing their worship. For top level niches, though one must look up at their ancestors, their ancestors are also looking after them at the same time.
It is important to find a columbarium with good facilities management services. This is the ensure that the final resting place of your departed loved one is always kept neat and clean.
Look for a columbarium that provides polite and professional staff services for its visitors. With responsible staff, you can be rest assured that the final resting place of your dearly departed is in good hands.
Ji-Ling Services and Other Buddhist Ritual Services
Earlier on, we mentioned about the importance of the Buddhist ritual services such as Departure ceremony, 49 days of Ji-Ling, and offering to the newly departed. Ask the columbarium representative if they provide such services for the dearly departed.
Can accommodate Larger Number of Niches Per Family
The common niches that we see usually can store one urn (single niche) or two urns (double niche). However, some individuals may want to be kept together with a few other family members. Hence, multi-urn niches such as 4-urns, 8-urns, or even 16 urns niches can accommodate such a demand.
Pre-planning Can Be an Option Too
To reduce a family’s financial burden and to fulfil one wishes for the ashes to be stored in a desired columbarium, one can pre-plan by purchasing their own columbarium niches in advance as well.
In summary, after the Buddhist funeral is completed, we need to decide on the management of the ashes and how to find a good and sacred final resting place for the dearly departed.
About Nirvana Memorial Garden 富贵山庄
As one of the largest privatised columbaria in Singapore, Nirvana Columbarium sets to provide a conducive and comfortable environment for individuals to worship their ancestors. We also provide quality Buddhist funeral services.