- Introduction to Sea Burial in Singapore
- Regulations and Proceedings to Sea Burials in Singapore
- Ceremonial Rites for Sea Burials
- Reasons for and against Sea Burials in Singapore
- Burials at Sea in Singapore
- Sea Burial Facilities in Singapore
- Looking for a Sea Burial Service in Singapore?
Introduction to Sea Burial in Singapore
Burial at sea in Singapore is one of the options for saying the last goodbye to a deceased loved one. It involves releasing the dead person’s remains from a sea vessel— a ship or boat—into the sea. Ashes or bones are scattered across the water. Or, cremated remains are placed in a biodegradable urn and gently released into the water. Sea burial is sometimes chosen for a great sea-lover or who led a marine chosen lifestyle. Elsewhere, it could also be the deceased’s wish to ‘return to nature and have the sea as their final resting place.
Family scattering ashes of deceased in the sea
Regulations and Proceedings to Sea Burials in Singapore
The general guidelines—regardless of religious beliefs—for sea burials are as follows:
- Anyone can be buried at sea in Singapore:
- Deceased must not undergo any embalmment;
- Wrap deceased in biodegradable clothing;
- Release of remains must occur where there is minimal risk of the body floating back offshore. Reasons for this could include strong currents or disturbance from fishing activities
Ceremonial Rites for Sea Burials:
Family members scattering ashes in sea
Many families choose to hold a parting ceremony for their deceased loved one onshore or on a boat. This could include farewell speeches and reminisce. Afterwards, the deceased’s remains are released later in the ceremony. Scattering ashes may involve one person or a few people in the group (e.g. parents, siblings, children, etc.).
Sometimes all present will take part. Christian ceremonies could involve a minister. He would lead the ceremony with prayers, scripture reading and eulogies. The performing of symbolic acts is also common during such ceremonies. These include tossing flower petals into the water during the service or releasing doves during the scattering of ashes.
Boat hire companies to offer various funeral services for different preferences, religions, or ethnicities.
Buddhist and Taoist Sea Burials typically involve the monk or the priest respectively to conduct the rites while the ashes are scattered in the sea. Families of the deceased will be by the side the entire time it is being scattered.
Reasons for and against Sea Burials in Singapore?
The greatest worry with a sea burial is that the deceased remains might not sink properly. Where it is not ashes being released, a body could end up floating offshore. Another concern is the environment. Any associated burial materials, including flowers and wreaths, must be decomposable.
Still, there are various arguments in favour of sea burial, including:
a) Cost of Sea Burial is lower
It is cheaper than other kinds of burial, especially in areas where land is scarce. Expenses from procedures like embalming and casket services do not have to be borne. In Singapore, the scattering of ashes at sea costs about $100 without any ritual. This rises to between $400 and $480 carried out with practices. By comparison, “it costs at least $1,200 to place the ashes at a columbarium”, according to undertakers in the industry.
At Ang Brothers Funeral Services, they charge $350 NETT for Manpower, labour, fresh loose flowers and bumboat rental.
b) Burials at Sea are Environmentally Friendly
Sea burial does not involve chemicals. Nor does it involve consumption waste associated with embalming and casket services;
c) Sea Burials are more Simple
Against traditional land funeral rites, there is less stress surrounding a sea burial. This is true with regard to space booking, timing, and casket transport. Sea burials also avoid potential issues such as the excavation of land burial sites.
Burials at Sea in Singapore
The trend in our society is that Hindus and Buddhists form the majority of sea burials. Scattering of the ashes in the sea usually happens 3 days after the cremation, and the post-death rites are usually conducted 11 or 30 days following the death of the deceased”
Some choose to have their ashes scattered at sea because they feel that this allows their descendants more freedom in paying their respects.
Yet others wish to ‘tour’ the world in the afterlife. Somehow sea burials are idealised as helping to fulfil that desire.
Sea Burial Facilities in Singapore
Dec 2020 brought official news that “The first coastal facility for post-death rites will be built at Changi Beach, but the National Environment Agency (NEA) will not proceed with an earlier announced sea burial site at Tanah Merah.” The site is intended “only for post-death rites”—like religious prayers. It is “and not for a scattering of ashes, which can be done at a designated site about 2.8km south of Pulau Semakau. People have to rent a boat to get there.”
In 2018, the NEA announced intentions to build a sea burial facility on the shoreline in Tanah Merah. This was to include a boardwalk extending into the sea to allow the scattering of ashes. This plan received opposition—including an online petition—from members of the public. Opponents also came from the sea sports community, as up to five water sports centres, including the National Sailing Centre, are located near the proposed site. There were also concerns over the possibility of swimming among – or even ingesting – human remains.
Separately, NEA conducted a preliminary design study which revealed that it was not feasible to perform post-death rites in the area—the gradient of the beach and tidal sea conditions at the site were a cause for safety concerns.
Looking for a Sea Burial Service in Singapore?
Ang Brothers Funeral Services conducts Sea Burial Services in Singapore for the bereaved families of the deceased.
Being over 50 years in business, Ang Brothers Funeral has served over 8,000 families till date, and are the one-stop solution for all funeral needs. They are committed to providing top-quality funeral services to the bereaved families, giving them a diginified and proper send-off for their departed loved ones.
Ang Brother’s Sea Burial services are priced at $350 (NETT) which includes:
- Manpower and Labour
- Fresh loose of Flowers
- Bumboat Rental
Check out their Funeral Packages page to know more about the packages you can choose from.
This article is written by Enya Lim.