COVID-19: Columbariums and temples adopting safety measures for Qing Ming Festival

Photo of Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery from Google Street View

SINGAPORE — Ahead of the Qing Ming Festival on 4 April this year, monasteries and columbariums are putting precautionary measures amid a spike in coronavirus cases in Singapore.

Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery, located at Bright Hill Road off Sin Ming Avenue in Bishan, will close its Pu Tong and Pu An Columbariums to the public.

The monastery is instead encouraging the public to use its new online ancestral offering service to pay respects to ancestors during the festival so that visitors do not have to be physically present at the premises.

Singaporeans can visit www.awarenessplace.com to buy online ancestral offering bundles, which include a pot of flowers, LED candles, fruit, fu bao, for $48.

Buyers can also choose between three dates - 28 March, 4 April and 10 April 2020 - for the Mass Chanting of Amitabha Sutra to take place. The food and fruits in the bundle will then be donated to charity.

Qing Ming ancestral prayers will instead be held at the multi-storey carpark at level 1 and the open-air tents next to it.

The measures are part of efforts to curb the spread of the COVID-19 virus. On Wednesday, the Ministry of Health reported a new single-day high of 47 new cases in Singapore, bringing the total number to 313.

Columbarium Kwong Wai Siew Peck San Theng at Bishan, which will hold its Qing Ming Festival from 21 March to 19 April, advised visitors against entering its premises on the peak periods of Saturdays, Sundays and public holidays. Visitors were also advised to shorten visits and not consume food within the monastery.

While the columbarium will still be open, visitor temperatures will be taken at certain entry points and burning of joss papers and and offerings and the burner area will only be carried out by authorised personnel.

In an advisory, the Singapore Buddhist Federation reminded temples and columbariums to adopt social distancing practices for visitors by encouraging them to visit during off-peak hours. It also advised elderly guests to avoid these places due to large crowds.

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