SINGAPORE: Those looking for a final resting place for their loved ones will have a new option from next Monday (May 17) - an inland ash scattering garden at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex.
The Garden of Peace @ CCK was designed as a peaceful, serene and respectful environment for ash scattering, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Tuesday in a press release.
The 9,500 sq m garden is a secular facility open to all faiths. It was developed after talks with religious groups, the funerary industry and other stakeholders in February, said the agency.
Those interested will have to apply on NEA's website and pay a fee of S$320 for the scattering of ashes.
The garden is open from 9am to 5pm daily and each family will have two hours to complete their ash scattering and rites.
Under current COVID-19 restrictions, those who make bookings can come in groups of up to five. This excludes funeral directors and religious workers. The garden is also open to the public.
After collecting the ashes of their loved ones at the Choa Chu Kang or Mandai crematoriums, families can proceed to scatter the ashes in the garden. Only fine human ashes should be scattered in the garden, and crematoriums will provide services to pulverise cremated remains into powder fine ashes.
A container with small, pre-cut holes at the top will be provided to family members, who can also choose to use their own container. After the ash scattering, families can choose to dispose of the provided containers, which are made of cardboard, in the allocated bin.
The garden is quiet and surrounded by greenery, with a small pavilion to provide shade. There are four ash scattering lanes, each named after a flower, with some seating areas lush with creeper plants, trees and bushes.
Ash scattering lanes are separated and are designed for privacy for families, said NEA. The lanes are also designed to allow ashes to “naturally percolate into the soil underneath”.
After scattering the ashes, families can use watering cans and taps provided to water the area where the ash was scattered, to ensure the ashes sink into the soil below. At the end of the day when the garden is closed, sprinklers will also wash ashes into the soil.
Wheelchair access and seating areas are provided for loved ones to observe and participate in the ash scattering process, said the agency.
Religious ceremonies or rites like the burning of joss sticks, playing of instruments or music, or food offerings will not be permitted in the garden to “maintain a clean and serene environment and the secular nature of the garden”, said NEA.
Visitors can use a prayer facility to conduct simple rites. It comprises a simple table that faces the garden and some seating areas.
“We hope that Singaporeans will welcome the provision of inland ash scattering services as an additional option for the management of cremated human remains,” said deputy CEO of NEA and director-general of public health Chew Ming Fai.
During consultations with religious groups and other stakeholders, the consensus was the facility should be secular and the experience respectful and dignified, he said.
“There was an emphasis that the facility should adopt a serene garden feel, where family and friends would be accorded privacy during the act of ash scattering,” Mr Chew added.
Inland ash scattering services will also be introduced at the new Mandai Crematorium Complex. The Garden of Serenity there will be completed with the new crematorium, and is expected to be operational in 2022, said NEA.