With most things in recent years getting flashier and grander, funerals are no exception.
And even if you haven’t been a (knock on wood) late, you’ve probably seen rows of large LED wreaths lined up along Housing Development Board (HDB) blocks or patches of grass near the blocks.
And if you’re like me and initially thought they were part of a new mini pasar malam…they’re not lah.
After being widely used in mainland China and Taiwan, LED wreaths quickly caught the attention of many Singaporeans for their convenience. Currently, they are mainly used in Buddhist and Taoist wakes.
Compared to traditional flower crowns, LED crowns can last for the whole evening, which is about five to seven days in Singapore. Each wreath costs around $90 to $138 including on-site installation.
Other items such as inflatables such as lanterns and gates have also become more popular.
However, despite the fact that these LED funeral wreaths have grown in popularity since mid-2021, authorities have since announced that they will be stepping up measures and limits on LED funeral wreaths.
And here’s why.
Safety issues surrounding LED crowns
I mean, it’s not hard to see why these crowns got labeled as potential safety hazards.
Since LED crowns require the use of electricity, safety is definitely a concern when a large number of LED crowns are placed on a site.
And with some people requesting as many as 30 or even 40 LED wreaths per burial, wreaths can easily turn into a fire or safety hazard, especially with the limited electricity that can be used at the sites.
In addition to this, the LED crowns are equipped with extremely bright lights, which makes it dangerous for drivers and motorists passing through the area at night as their vision of the road could be disturbed and lead to accidents.
Due to the risks posed, several funeral homes and businesses have actually stopped providing LED wreath services.
Other disturbances and problems caused by LED crowns
Aside from security and fire hazards, LED crowns have also proven to be disruptive to other residents living in the area, especially at night.
According Shin Min Daily Newssome people have been affected by their neighbors’ excessive LED wreath displays at vigils.
A lady named Lin living at 15 Hougang Avenue 3 recounted Shinmin that one of the residents on the block across from his recently held a vigil with over 70 LED wreaths lit all night.
Even though she lives on a fairly high floor, the light from the LED wreaths still ended up shining into her house, which made it extremely difficult for her to fall asleep at night.
She also expressed that she respects the deceased and feels it is okay for her family to display multiple wreaths and banners, but that it would be less than ideal if the displays end up disturbing others in the vicinity.
Lin called the neighborhood police station to file a complaint and also sent comments to the city council in the hope that they can help solve the problem.
New rules and regulations regarding LED crowns
According Shinminauthorities are currently working with the Singapore Funeral Association and the National Environment Agency to develop a new set of rules for LED funeral wreaths.
Based on information released by the Ang Mo Kio City Council, the new rules will ensure that people wishing to install LED funeral wreaths will first need to seek permission from the City Council.
Currently, there is a list of rules that the authorities are still working on. But for now, here’s what they have planned.
Quantity and size rules
A maximum of ten LED wreaths and one inflatable object will be allowed at a wake.
LED crowns cannot exceed 2.6m in height and 1.5m in diameter, while inflatable objects cannot exceed 4m in height. This is to ensure that other residents or drivers do not end up with an obstructed view of the road.
Rules regarding the placement of crowns
There will also be restrictions on where wreaths can be installed to ensure the safety of others.
Crowns and inflatables can only be placed inside the wake slot, such as on the empty deck of HDB blocks and flags.
If items are placed in public spaces, there must be at least 1.5m of space provided for other people to pass through.
In addition, no wreath or inflatable object should be placed within 5m of parking lots, roads or fire hydrants.
Electric generators should also not be placed near houses or shops to avoid causing inconvenience to others.
With the new rules, the LED crowns will have to be turned off from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. every day to avoid disturbing other residents of the area.
Crowns also cannot be mounted or dismounted during this time.
For funerals requiring more than one generator in total, personnel responsible for placing wreaths and items will need to hold a Supply Installation License (SI).
Authorized personnel, the electric generator supplier and the funeral home must also ensure that the electric generator is installed in a safe place. They are also responsible for setting up roadblocks if necessary.
Discussion with religious leaders
Besides the rules, Shinmin also spoke to Taoist and Buddhist religious leaders in Singapore and found that authorities had also had a discussion with them.
Taoist Federation President Tan Thiam Lye told Shin Min that while LED wreaths are more environmentally friendly as they can be reused, they require the use of electricity and may affect drivers due to bright lights.
Also, they may not be solemn enough for the occasion due to the colored lights used in the wreaths.
He also stressed the importance of considering the feelings of others living in the area, as well as those of other religious people.
Individuals may also feel uncomfortable if the wake arches are placed near stores or malls.
This is especially the case if the arches are placed near the path they want to take and there is no other route available for them.
He also took the opportunity to express his hopes to see LED wreaths and traditional wreaths of paper or fresh flowers coexist in harmony because it would be a shame to see a tradition die out like this.
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Venerable Seck Kwang Phing, President of the Buddhist Federation of Singapore, also echoed similar sentiments.
He added that some people may prefer it if funeral procedures do not occupy entire stretches of corridors and roads due to superstitions, and such preferences should also be respected.
Impact on companies selling crowns
Regarding the LED crown companies interviewed by Shinminsome companies have indicated that their activity could drop by more than 80% if the limit of ten crowns per wake is implemented.
Although authorities have not announced when these rules will be in place, word has already spread within the industry.
A spokesperson for Eternal Funeral Services also explained that such a limit could cause a lot of confusion and chaos at funerals.
First, the family of the deceased may not know who will send them wreaths. On top of that, companies won’t know whether or not another company is sending crowns in the same wake.
Once there are ten crowns at the wake, the family can only reject the crowns, which means that the companies involved will have made an unnecessary trip.
Apart from the inconvenience that may arise, it would be difficult for companies to calculate delivery costs.
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