Columbariums adopt safety measures for upcoming Qing Ming Festival
For the first time in 99 years, the air-conditioned columbarium and ancestral tablet halls in Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery in Bright Hill Road near Upper Thomson is closed to the public for the upcoming Qing Ming Festival.
The monastery said in a Facebook post yesterday that all Qing Ming ancestral prayers for the public will be moved to its multi-storey carpark on level 1 and the open-air tentage next to it.
The Qing Ming Festival takes place on April 4, with crowds also expected on April 10 - the Good Friday public holiday - as well as on the weekends between this Saturday and April 19.
The immediate shutdown is in line with the Government's push for social distancing during the Covid-19 crisis, the monastery said. It will also cease distribution of free food.
Those who want to participate in the "Dedication of Merits to the Departed" ritual can follow a live screening on its Facebook page, it added. All prayer offerings, which can be purchased online, will be donated to charity homes after the prayer.
Nirvana Memorial Garden in Old Choa Chu Kang Road is also encouraging its customers to participate in its "pray on behalf service package", which allows the centre to dedicate offerings on their behalf.
Photos of the prayer session will be sent to the family members within three days of the service completion.
While the air-conditioned columbarium will still be open to the public, all prayers for Qing Ming will be held outdoors.
The number of people allowed inside each compartment indoors will be limited to 10, a staff member told Chinese evening daily Lianhe Wanbao.
Temperatures will be taken and visitors must complete a health declaration form.
It will be business as usual at the open-air Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Theng columbarium in Bishan.
Its general manager, Mr Liu Khee Fang, told Wanbao it is unnecessary to close because of how the blocks are situated.
But precautionary measures such as temperature taking will be in place. The columbarium will also restrict the total number of visitors to no more than 250 at any one time.
Visitors can drop off their offerings and its staff will burn them after the doors are closed.