Having to walk through a funeral 'gate' on the way home has left some residents feeling spooked.
One resident who did not wish to be named contacted Shin Min Daily News about an elaborate wake set up at Block 232A, Serangoon Ave 2. The wake began on Tuesday (May 24).
What made the ceremony out of the ordinary is the presence of a large inflatable arch framing the covered walkway that leads to the block.
"I feel it is inauspicious having to walk through the archway whenever I go home," said the resident, adding that six electronic wreaths were also placed right next to the structure, obstructing pedestrian movement.
"Some other residents have also discussed this and said they feel a bit scared when passing through the archway."
According to Shin Min reporters who visited the area, two inflatable gates were placed — one at the covered walkway entrance to the block from the carpark — and another next to the sidewalk by the main road.
There were also a total of 74 electronic wreaths surrounding the block.
However, the majority of residents interviewed by the Chinese evening daily said they didn't mind passing under the tall inflatable gates.
A 58-year-old self-employed man who gave his surname as Huang said that funeral wakes normally last for just a few days and the structures do not pose that much of a disturbance to residents' daily lives.
"We can also walk around it if it's inconvenient," he added. Other residents commented that they understand the emotions of the bereaved and do not think the entire arrangement is particularly excessive.
Only one person interviewed by Shin Min commented on the extravagant setup, saying that the bright lights from the LED wreaths were piercing to the eyes.
Gifts from family and friends
According to Shin Min Daily News, the deceased is a man in his 80s.
A family member of the deceased who did not wish to be identified told the Chinese evening daily that the wake will last for five days, with the funeral taking place on Saturday (May 28).
He shared that the archway and wreaths were all condolence gifts sent by close friends and relatives. "We are a big family and many of us have business partners as well," he said.
The man added that they have not received any notifications from authorities regarding the setup but that the family is willing to co-operate and remove them if necessary. "We hope for mutual understanding from residents."
According to The Straits Times, more people are turning to electronic funeral wreaths to express their condolences. The providers of such arrangements also offer add-ons such as inflatable gates and floats. Another large-scale funeral wake involving dozens of LED wreaths and inflatable gates was seen at Block 549 Hougang Street 51 on Dec 13 last year.
Fengshui master Ken Koh, 62, from House of Feng Shui shared with AsiaOne that the funeral arches are largely symbolic and "meant for the deceased person to 'know their way home'".
"While some people may find it morbid to pass through them, they do not interfere in the human dimension and will not cause any harm," he added.
When asked if the arches are "inauspicious", another fengshui practitioner in Singapore who goes by Master Chan said, "there's no such thing".
"If it's true then passing through a wedding arch should bring you good luck."
Singapore LED Flower Wreaths' director Jeremy Ng, 24, told AsiaOne that such inflatable gates are meant largely for decorative purposes.
"Since most funerals are conducted at HDB void decks, these gates mark the 'entrance' of the funeral," said Ng.
"We do understand that some residents might find it inauspicious but in actuality, they serve little or no religious purpose and can be likened to wreaths or flowers to offer comfort to the family or make the funeral look grander," added Ng.
However, he said that these arches would usually be placed "away from the sheltered area where residents have no other viable alternatives but to cross it".
Likewise, X Funerals marketing executive Cyrus Lee, 31, concurred that the gates hold "no significance" other than as decorative items.
"Maybe in most religions, the gates represent a first step to the afterlife," said Lee. "Whether it's auspicious or inauspicious is tied to one's beliefs, and usually that death in itself is inauspicious," he added.
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