Funerals commemorate a person’s final hours in the public eye, and the departed will only live on in the memories of the grieving relatives and friends. The celebration of someone’s life rather than their death. Many superstitions and beliefs that have been around for a very long time but are still prevalent today come into play during funerals. Because Singaporeans are prone to such superstitions, they must be aware of them before attending a funeral to prevent upsetting the family or disappointing other attendees.
Giving cash or making a donation when attending a funeral is one custom that has been practised widely. Is it required? Are guests still obligated to contribute financially even if the family is wealthy already? The answer is no, of course. Giving money at a funeral won’t even cross your thoughts if you’re not particularly superstitious and don’t subscribe to many other beliefs and customs. Everyone is free to donate as long as they do it voluntarily and in kind. No one has ever requested money at a funeral since doing so is impolite and disrespectful of the individual being solicited for money.
However, because Singaporeans adhere strongly to this custom, they plan what or how much to contribute before attending the burial. Funeral planning can be costly for the family, especially if the deceased has hospital bills. Furthermore, there will be Rise in Hospital Bills which will put more stress on the family. These funeral donations can be a massive assistance in covering some costs and will undoubtedly relieve some of the burdens from the family’s shoulders.
This custom, which dates back to the Jin dynasty, is followed as a sign of respect for the dead and as a way to console the grieving family. As white is the colour of sorrow in Chinese culture, as opposed to the lucky colour red, which symbolises happiness and success, it is customary to put donations in white envelopes. The standard funeral contribution in China is 101 yuan, which is still an odd number by custom.
There are a few things to prepare for before attending a Chinese funeral in Singapore. These include knowing what to say to the bereaved family and how to dress appropriately. Remember to carry some cash, which is another essential thing to remember.
In Singapore, it is customary for attendees to provide the hosts with a little donation at Chinese funerals. How much to contribute, though, is a nagging issue that only sometimes goes away. What if you still need to bring cash? What is the proper amount to donate? Continue reading to learn more about the custom of sending sympathy money.
1. Why Do We Donate Money at Funerals?
In Singapore, it is not unusual to give monetary gifts or donations at funerals, and it is a custom that has existed for a very long time. Such contributions are known as “pek kim” or “bai jin” in Chinese, which means “white gold.” White is a colour associated with sadness, unlike red packets, which are vivid, joyful colours.
Usually, the funds are meant to help the grieving family get through the trying period that follows the loss of a loved one. This includes paying for the funeral service, the cremation, and other incidental funeral-related expenses.
Placing such a donation in a white envelope is customary practice. The host family member is typically seated at a reception desk and receives the mail after you. The recipient will then note your name and the donation amount. This is done to maintain an open record of all transactions.
Giving the cash directly to the person working the counter is also permissible if you don’t have a white envelope on hand. Some now allow electronic cash transfers as well.
2. Is Condolence Money Compulsory?
It is not required in a specific meaning. You can still go to the funeral without contributing anything, and most people won’t hold it against you. However, most people who are familiar with the custom will continue to do so because it is thought of as a good gesture. Giving money to a family in need at a Buddhist funeral is encouraged, especially for those of the Buddhist faith, as it is a kind deed that can result in positive karma.
But occasionally, you can come across an affluent family’s funeral. You may, at your discretion, substitute a sympathy gift, such as a floral arrangement, for a monetary payment. Some families only take in-kind offerings or state they will donate all financial contributions to a charity.
3. If You Choose to Give, How Much Should You Give?
The ideal donation amount is always challenging to determine. In general, it would depend on how close you were to the deceased or their family, how much money you had, and how much the family was thought to require. The most typical minimum is $30.
The amount can then be increased if you’d like, provided the first few digits are an odd number. This is so because funerals are anything but auspicious in Chinese culture, where even numbers are thought to be lucky.
It is only proper to bid someone a fond farewell, show respect for them, and honour their life and achievements to humanity if they played a significant role in your life. Giving money expresses your thanks for the various experiences and memories you enjoyed with the departed. Because of this, the amount of money you should contribute to a funeral must consider your relationship with the deceased and your financial situation. Regardless of the sum, the fact that you have come to mourn and offer your sympathies is already sufficient. You’ll know how much to contribute and be able to donate with a willing heart if you know the motivations behind providing condolence money.