Multi Racial Tolerance – Example of Buddhist Funeral Services in Singapore

The culture in Singapore is made up various ethnic groups. The main ethnic group would be the Chinese followed by Malays. It amazes many to see how such different cultures can live on such a tiny island measuring just 30km wide.

With these diverse cultures, the religion that each racial group holds will differ and this will influence the process of sending away their loves one. To further complicate matters, a racial group can have several different religions. The Chinese culture in Singapore can be sub-divided into Taoism, Buddhist, Christian and much other sub religions. Below, we shall have a peak at the normal ritual that is engaged for Buddhist which accounts for 70% of the Chinese in Singapore.

Most Buddhist funeral in Singapore would be held at the void decks of the HDB apartments that the deceased had lived in. The ritual will last between 3 – 5 days. Monks will be seen chanting the Buddhist scripts at around 7pm – 9pm daily. A common sight at the Buddhist funeral would be that of mahjong tables – a popular Chinese gambling game – that will be placed in the funeral area. Such tables are meant for relatives to pass their time with at the wake. This game is played using blocks of tiles measuring 15cm x 7cm and a depth of 2 cm. As such the noise it creates especially when played through the night can wake a person up from sleep.

It is also true that the Chinese prefer to live on higher floors as such it is the other ethnic groups that prefers the lower floor flat which are nearer to where the wake is held. However, the strong racial tolerance is demonstrated in such occasion. The other racial group has to tolerate the noise of the monks chanting and the mahjong table. Without racial tolerance, a racial riot could occur. However, Singapore has yet to experience a racial riot for the last 40 years. This is what makes Singapore a unique place to live in.

 

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