#TIL Ash Scattering Garden
#TIL that Garden of Peace at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex is Singapore’s first inland ash-scattering garden. Developed by National Environment Agency and operational since 17 May 2021, it has received more than 1,900 applications for its services.
A secular facility that is open to all religious faiths, the 9,500 square-metre garden adopts an open concept with designated lanes for walkways and ash scattering. Families can use the watering cans and taps available to water the area where the ashes were scattered, so they percolate into the soil underneath.
Death practices hold cultural and religious values as well as symbolic meanings for many of us, and for a long time, they are associated with burials. But in land-scarce Singapore, the competing needs of nation development, population growth coupled with our ageing demographics have made it increasingly challenging to balance these needs over the years.
Some of our measures include the New Burial Policy, introduced in 1998 to limit burial to 15 years for existing cemeteries. After this period, the graves are exhumed and the remains cremated or re-interred, depending on the religious requirements. In 2007, the Crypt Burial System began, in which the deceased are buried in crypts laid out in grids which further optimise land use.
There are now several options available for after-death services, depending on the wishes and religion of the deceased. These include burial, cremation, and interment of the ashes in columbaria niches. But space constraints remain a challenge. The annual number of deaths in Singapore is expected to double from about 20,000 in 2016 to 40,000 in 2040.
Inland ash scattering is a sustainable option. The concept was developed after extensive consultations with religious leaders and stakeholders. A second inland ash-scattering facility, Garden of Serenity, at the Mandai Crematorium Complex is expected to complete in 2024.
As a volunteer said, “If everyone chooses to store the ashes in a columbarium, more of them will have to be built. Meanwhile, the ash-scattering garden takes up only a single plot of land.”
Singaporeans have come a long way in adapting death practices to commemorate our departed. As burial methods change, so too do our rituals. Ash-scattering gardens present us with places for remembrances, and more space for future memories.
Source of quote: The Straits Times. Singapore to open first inland ash scattering garden in Choa Chu Kang on May 17 2021. 12 May 2021.
📷: NEA’s Facebook post on Garden of Peace @ CCK, at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex. https://www.facebook.com/NEASingapore/posts/nea-has-developed-the-garden-of-peace-cck-at-choa-chu-kang-cemetery-complex-intr/2891804791040849/