Attending and conducting funerals is never easy for anyone involved. It might be your loved one or a distant relative who might’ve passed away. Dealing with grievances combined with carrying out responsibilities can feel confusing and overwhelming for anyone.
The purpose of this article is to provide you with a general idea of how funerals, especially religious ones work. Now, to begin with, let’s gain an understanding of what a religious funeral is.
What are religious funerals?
A religious funeral is like an event and a service of sorts where the friends and family of the deceased person conduct and coordinate a ceremony to mark their passing. It’s a display of respect and a farewell to the person who passed away. A religious funeral service usually begins with a religious leader guiding everyone involved through the procedure of bidding their farewell.
Furthermore, some of the people present at the ceremony also help guide everyone through all of the religious rituals and procedures associated with the event. Now, even though every religious funeral has different rules that you’ll need to follow, all of them have certain rules that are pretty similar. For example, most religious funerals are often held at a place of worship. Another similarity is chanting or prayers are often sung or recited out loud at funerals.
If you are attending a religious funeral, it would be better to do some research on the customs before you attend, as it’ll make you feel more comfortable regarding the ceremonies.
There is a wide-ranging variety of religious funerals in Singapore, but the most common ones are:
- Jewish Funerals
- Catholic Funerals
- Islamic Funerals
- Hindu Funerals
- Buddhist Funerals
- Christian Funerals
- Sikh Funerals
- Non-Religious Funerals
The traditions of different religious funerals
Every religious funeral follows customs and rituals that are unique to their culture. Even though, all of them consist of prayers and chants, the way of carrying them out is completely different.
For instance, at Jewish, Christian, and Buddhist funerals it’s pretty common to have a eulogy. A eulogy can be described as a speech that the religious leader recites in front of the attendees as a way of respecting the dearly departed. It’s usually carried out in the form of storytelling, reminiscing about the life and good deeds of the deceased person, and helps people remember and celebrate their life. The eulogy can also be carried by family members and friends depending on the family’s preference, and religion.
Non-religious funerals often carry out the same rituals. Now, for Islamic funerals, mourners get together to recite funeral prayers and self-reflect. Whilst for Hindu funerals, the ritual is sort of similar as the deceased person’s family and friends gather and recite prayers before and after cremating the body. However, in some Hindu funeral traditions, the family chooses to bury the body instead.
Etiquettes to follow at religious funerals
It’s expected for people who attend a religious funeral to be respectful of the mourning family’s religious beliefs. This can mean that sometimes you might have to pay your respects in a religious context that might feel completely foreign to you. It’s possible that you don’t believe in that particular faith.
However, even if it might feel unfamiliar to you, it’s better to be considerate when it comes to someone’s customs at a funeral, as they’re mourning. Usually, you won’t be required to take part in chanting or group prayers but you may do so out of respect to the family. In most religious funerals, you will also be prescribed a mandatory color of mourning. It’s important that you find out what that color is before attending a funeral.
Usually, the color that’s designated for honoring the deceased person is either white or black. If a funeral service requires you to dress in black, then you should wear clothing that is black or dark, and clean and neat. Typically, these types of funerals also require you to dress in a formal style. It’s customary for women to dress in a black dress or pantsuit, and men to wear a suit with black shoes.
The same goes for funerals where the designated color of mourning is white. At such events, you’ll need to dress in a slightly formal manner. Your clothes must be white pressed, clean and neat. Doing so helps you symbolize your grief in a way that requires no words. It also helps all the mourners in attendance bond together in support of the family.
Commonly asked questions regarding religious funerals
Below we have answered some of the most frequently asked questions regarding funeral questions. It might clear some of your queries as well.
- How long does a religious funeral service last?
Ans: It all depends on the religion, its customs, and the family’s wishes. The duration of a religious funeral ceremony can last from about half an hour to over an hour.
- Is it still customary to send flowers to a funeral?
Ans: Again, it all depends on the traditions of the religious funeral. For instance, for Jewish funerals, you’ll need to send a donation to the charity in the name of the deceased. Usually, the obituary will guide you on what to do.
- What type of flowers would be considered appropriate for a funeral?
Ans: For funerals, it’s usually white flowers that are favored and considered customary, but it’s better to ask the family if you are attending a Muslim or a Jewish funeral.
- Do you have to be invited in order to attend a funeral?
Ans: In most religions, there’s no tradition of inviting people for a funeral service. However, as per tradition, if you were familiar with the person who passed away then you should try and attend their funeral if it’s open to guests.
- What is the appropriate way to dress for a funeral service?
Ans: As mentioned earlier, there’s usually a color designated for mourning. Depending on the customary color, wear clothes that follow the customs, and are formal and neat.
Q: Is it allowed to bring kids to a religious funeral?
Ans: Absolutely. It’s not uncommon to see children attending funerals. However, if your children are really young, then we advise you to sit near the back in case you need to make a quick temporary exit.