FaithWorld

Lasers and iPods for a Singapore funeral of a lifetime

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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. columbarium 1

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.

Give up your iPod for Lent, British bishops urge

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Apple Inc CEO Steve Jobs with iPod Nano display in San Francisco, 9 Sept 2008. Credit: Reuters/Robert Galbraith

Church of England bishops are encouraging British Christians to give up their iPods for Lent, instead of more traditional vices such as chocolate, to help save the planet.

The Bishop of London, Richard Chartres, and the Bishop of Liverpool, James Jones, are among those calling for a carbon fast for Lent — a period ahead of Easter which Christians traditionally consider a time of penance and reflection — which began on Wednesday.