Things to Avoid During a Buddhist Funeral in Singapore

Things to Avoid During a Buddhist Funeral in Singapore

Buddhist funerals are normally practised by Chinese families. This is the reason why many Buddhist funerals also follow cultural practices that are unique to the Chinese community.

Since Buddhism is the most widely practised religion in Singapore, chances are you’ll find yourself attending a Buddhist funeral eventually. To help you prepare for that, check out this quick guide on what not to do at Buddhist funerals.

Avoid wearing bright colours

For the Chinese, the colour red symbolises happiness. For this reason, you may normally find the colour red in “happier” occasions such as birthdays, weddings, and anniversaries.

This is why red is avoided at all costs in Chinese funerals in general—be it Buddhist, Taoist, or even Christian funerals. 

Wearing red is believed to bring bad luck. Apart from that, it’s mostly considered as a disrespectful thing to do. 

Instead of wearing bright colours like red, orange, and yellow, mourners can wear simple black clothing. White is normally reserved for family members.

Don’t wear flashy jewelry 

Wearing flashy or extravagant accessories, clothing, and jewelry is considered inappropriate when attending Buddhist funerals. Most of the time, it’s taken as a sign that you’re flaunting wealth, which is an absolute no-no on these occasions. 

Generally, Buddhist funerals are simple and modest affairs. For this reason, family members and guests should also be mindful of their clothing to maintain the solemnity of the occasion.

Avoid leaving during chants

Chanting hymns, protective verses, and prayers is a common practice in Buddhist funerals, so don’t be alarmed if it happens during your visit. 

Be sure to avoid leaving during the chanting since it’s considered disrespectful. 

If you don’t share the same beliefs, you’re not required to participate in the chanting. You can simply stand or sit silently at the corner, refrain from using your phone, and wait until the chanting is over.

Refrain from peeking at the casket if it’s closed

In some Buddhist funerals, you may find that the casket remains closed upon your arrival. When this happens, don’t ask a family member to take a peek at the deceased’s body, regardless of how close you were. 

That’s because some Buddhist funeral customs only allow family members to view the deceased’s body. In that case, you may simply approach the altar where the casket is displayed, light some joss sticks, do a bow, and offer a silent prayer. 

Avoid cutting your hair or attending celebrations

This custom applies to relatives and immediate family members of the deceased. 

Cutting one’s hair and trimming one’s nails is seen as a sign of disrespect, especially if the deceased happens to be their parents. 

This belief stems from the idea that one’s nails and hair is given by one’s parents and therefore, shouldn’t be touched within the first few days of their passing.

At the same time, attending celebratory events like birthdays, weddings, and Chinese New Year events during the mourning period is also considered to be a sign of disrespect. 

More Resources about Funerals in Singapore