Lasers and iPods for a Singapore funeral of a lifetime

By Reuters Staff
May 17, 2010
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An Ipod Touch can control the lighting, sound and smoke machines used in the funeral ceremony at the columbarium, May 15, 2010/Edgar Su

Death need not be a grim affair, especially for the living. At a new columbarium in Singapore, the deceased can depart, rock concert style.  Unlike most traditional Buddhist funeral ceremonies that follow cremation, there is no incense and no monks offering prayers at the Nirvana Memorial Garden columbarium, where the urns holding the remains of the dead are stored.

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A demonstration of a Buddhist funeral ceremony at the columbarium, May 15, 2010/Edgar Su

Instead, curtains draw automatically to reveal the deceased’s urn which is placed atop a pedestal, machine-generated smoke fills the prayer hall and a booming recorded voice, accompanied by chants, speaks words of comfort and talks about death.

The columbarium boasts a $2 million sound and light system. Its resident Buddha statue pulsate gently with LED lights and, as a final touch, a ray of bright white light shines on the urn of the deceased symbolising the ascent to heaven.

The so-called “six star” columbarium is Singapore’s first luxury final resting place and the brainchild of Malaysian-based NV Multi Corp which has other similar projects in Southeast Asia.

Read the full story by Edgar Su here.

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