There are many reasons you may plan a funeral for someone outside of your family. You may have a close friend or an elderly person you care for that passes and has no relatives to handle their final arrangements. If you are new to the culture and rituals surrounding an Asian funeral, there are a few things you should know. Here are a few key points that can help you ensure the funeral is as close to traditional as possible for your loved one.
The colour palette of the funeral is vital for culture and ritual. Keep in mind that the colour red signifies happiness in many Asian cultures. This means no red should be used during the funeral ceremony or during the viewing. You will notice that many of the attendees will wear white and no jewellery will be visible. In addition, if you are planning flowers for the funeral, make sure you use the colours white or yellow. These colours are used to express grief. You may also want to offer white armbands for those who have worn black to the funeral, as white will show solidarity with the family and their loss.
Many Asian cultures will burn offerings of some type at the funeral. These offerings are generally incense or money. This is to symbolize helping their loved one to the next life or afterlife. If you are having an outdoor funeral, graveside funeral or if the building you are using allows it, you may want to offer a small area for the burning of the incense and for visitors to choose an incense stick for their own private prayers.
If the religion of your loved one is Buddhism, you may find that cremation is the chosen option for the service. This may be in the writing of your loved one, last wills and testaments or another form of end of life requests. If you are going with cremation, make sure the crematorium or funeral directors know that you are attempting to keep the Asian traditions and rituals of your loved one in the funeral ceremony. They can help you with arrangements and with any questions you have regarding the cremation itself.
These are just a few of the key points to Asian funeral rituals and customs. If you have any questions or aren't sure about some of the choices you are making, consider discussing the options with a funeral director. Most funeral directors have dealt with Asian funerals and customs. If yours has not, they can refer you to someone who can help you with these final arrangements.