With most things in recent years getting flashier and grander, funerals are no exception.
And even if you haven’t been to one (touch wood) late, you’ve probably seen rows of large LED wreaths lined up along the side of Housing Development Board (HDB) blocks or grass patches near the blocks.
And if you’re like me and initially thought that they were part of a new mini pasar malam… they’re not lah.
After being used widely in Mainland China and Taiwan, LED wreaths soon caught the eyes of many in Singapore for their convenience. Currently, they are mostly used in Buddhist and Taoist wakes.
As compared to traditional flower wreaths, the LED wreaths can last for the entire wake, which is around five to seven days in Singapore. Each wreath costs around $90 to $138 including on-site installation.
Other items such as inflatable objects such as lanterns and gates have also become more popular.
However, despite the fact that these LED funeral wreaths have gained a substantial amount of popularity since mid-2021, authorities have since announced that they will be stepping up on measures and limits with regards to LED wreaths at funerals.
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Safety Concerns Surrounding LED Wreaths
I mean, it’s not hard to see why these wreaths have been labelled as potential safety hazards.
Since the LED wreaths require the use of electricity, safety is definitely a concern when a large number of LED wreaths are placed at a venue.
And with some people requesting up to 30 or even 40 LED wreaths per funeral, the wreaths can easily turn into a fire or safety hazards, especially with the limited electricity at can be used at venues.
In addition to that, the LED wreaths are fitted with extremely bright lights, making it dangerous for drivers and motorists who pass by the area at night since their view of the road might get disrupted and lead to accidents.
Due to the hazards posed, several funeral parlours and businesses have actually stopped providing LED wreath services.
Other Disruptions and Issues Caused by LED Wreaths
Apart from the safety and fire hazards, LED wreaths have also proved to be disruptive for other residents living in the area, especially at night.
According to Shin Min Daily News, some individuals have been affected by their neighbours’ excessive displays of LED wreaths at wakes.
A lady surnamed Lin living at 15 Hougang Avenue 3 told Shin Min that one of the residents at the block opposite hers recently held a wake with over 70 LED wreaths that were switched on throughout the night.
Even though she lives at a rather high storey, the light from the LED wreaths still ended up being shone into her house, making it extremely difficult for her to fall asleep at night.
She also expressed that she respects the deceased and feels that it is acceptable for their family to display multiple wreaths and banners, but that it would be less than ideal if the displays ended up disturbing others in the vicinity.
Lin called the Neighbourhood Police Post to file a complaint and sent feedback to the town council as well in hopes that they will be able to help resolve the issue.
New Rules and Regulations Regarding LED Wreaths
According to Shin Min, the authorities are currently working together with the Singapore Funeral Association and National Environmental Agency to come up with a new set of rules for LED funeral wreaths.
Based on the information released by the Ang Mo Kio Town Council, the new rules will ensure that individuals who want to set up LED funeral wreaths will have to seek the Town Council’s permission first.
As of now, there is a list of rules that the authorities are still working on. But for now, here’s what they have planned.
Rules Regarding Quantity and Size
A maximum of ten LED wreaths and one inflatable object will be allowed at one wake.
The LED wreaths cannot exceed 2.6m in height and 1.5m in diameter, while the inflatable objects cannot be over 4m tall. This is to ensure that fellow residents or drivers do not end up with obstructed views of the road.
Rules Regarding Location of Wreaths
There will also be restrictions with regards to where the wreaths can be set up in order to ensure the safety of others.
The wreaths and inflatable objects can only be placed within the wake location, such as at the void deck of HDB blocks and pavilions.
If the items are placed in public areas, there must be at least 1.5m worth of space provided for others to walk through.
Additionally, no wreaths or inflatable objects are to be placed within 5m of carparks, roads or fire hydrants either.
The electric generators should also not be placed near houses or shops in order to prevent causing inconvenience to others.
Rules Regarding Timing
With the new rules, the LED wreaths will have to be switched off from 10pm to 7am daily to prevent disrupting other residents in the area.
The wreaths cannot be set up or taken down during this time period as well.
Rules Regarding License
For funerals that require more than one electric generator in total, personnel responsible for setting up the wreaths and objects will have to have a Supply Installation (SI) License.
The licensed personnel, electric generator supplier and funeral parlour must also ensure that the electric generator is installed in a safe area. They are also responsible for setting up roadblocks if necessary.
Discussion With Religious Leaders
Apart from the rules, Shin Min also spoke to the Taoist and Buddhist religious leaders in Singapore, and found out that the authorities also held a discussion with them.
Tan Thiam Lye, the chairman of the Taoist Federation told Shin Min that even though LED wreaths are more environmentally friendly since they can be reused, they require the use of electricity and may affect drivers due to the bright lights.
Additionally, they may not be solemn enough for the occasion due to the colourful lights used in the wreaths.
He also emphasised the importance of considering the feelings of others living in the area, as well as those from other religious.
Individuals may also be uncomfortable if the arches of the wake are placed near shops or malls.
This is especially so if the arches are placed near the path that they want to take and if there is no other route available for them.
He also took the chance to express his hopes of LED wreaths and the traditional paper or fresh flower wreaths coexisting together in harmony since it would be a pity to see a tradition die out like that.
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Venerable Seck Kwang Phing, President of the Singapore Buddhist Federation, also echoed similar sentiments.
He added that some indiviudals may prefer it if the funeral proceedings do not take up entire stretches of corridors and roads due to superstitions, and that these preferences should be respected as well.
Impact on Businesses Selling Wreaths
As for LED wreath businesses interviewed by Shin Min, some businesses expressed that their business might drop by more than 80% if the ten-wreath-per-wake limit is implemented.
Although the authorities have not announced when these rules will be put into place, the news has already been spreading within the industry.
A spokesperson from Eternal Funeral Services also explained that such a limit may cause much confusion and chaos at the actual funeral.
Firstly, the family of the deceased may not know who will be sending them wreaths. In addition to that, companies will not know whether or not another company is sending wreaths to the same wake as well.
Once there is ten wreaths at the wake, the family can only reject the wreaths, which means that the affected companies will have made a wasted trip.
Apart from the awkwardness that might arise, it would be difficult for the companies to calculate the delivery fees.
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