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Published: Thursday February 25, 2010 MYT 2:54:00 PM

Moving to a new "resting place"

SINGAPORE: Due to the land constraints here, old Muslim graves were dug out and the skeletal remains were moved to a new burial ground. This is to provide space for new graves.

The relocating of the 'old graves' were done once in several years.

From the Bidadari Muslim cemetery of more than 30 years, the graves were relocated to Pusara Aman and now, moved to Pusara Abadi in Choa Chu Kang.

The move to a new graveyard places priority on more economical space as there are only skeletal remains from the bodies that have been buried for more than 20 years.

Hence the layout at the new burial ground is more practical.

At the previous graveyard, there used to be the remnants of one body in one grave.

At the new site, a grave accommodates the skeletal remains from eight bodies in a dugout that is about 1.5m deep.

But for the skeletal remains that have no next of kin, the skeletal remains from sixteen bodies were gathered in one single grave.

The graves are much smaller and there is a divider in the middle of the 2.0 x 0.5 m lot.

The 'exhumation' took less than two hours and for the reburial, all of the graves that are to be 'moved' had to be dug out.

The reburial took place at noon, right after the Zohor prayers.

The religious authorities in the island republic were in charge of the reburial and some 50 cases were handled a day after the notices were placed in the mainstream newspapers.

The digging out, gathering of skeletal remains and preparing the 'kapan' (Muslim burial shroud) before reburying the remains had to be witnessed by the next of kin that had consented to the exercise.

The skeletal remains were then taken to the new burial site located only 1km away from the previous cemetery at Pusara Aman, accompanied by a convoy of vehicles that carried the next of kin and religious officials.

The reburial was fast and smooth with the next of kin merely looking on.

When approached, they expressed satisfaction over the day-long affair.

"The procedure was systematic and the waiting area was comfortable. Even though it took a whole day, it was done according to schedule," Dahlia Monsen told this writer.

She was there to witness the relocation of her grandmother's skeletal remains. Her grandmother died in 1980.

When the authorities planned to relocate the old graves, notice on the exercise was placed in the newspapers.

Relatives of the deceased then contacted the Singapore Islamic Religious Department (JAIS) before being notified by the department on the dates involved.

JAIS did not impose any charges on the exercise but the relatives of the deceased were welcomed to give alms to workers involved in the exrcise.

"I was touched upon seeing the skeletal remains of my late mother being extricated with some difficulty due to the roots of a tree that had pushed several graves out of alignment," said Dayang Sofia Awang Rambli of Brunei.

Dayang Sofia said she and her family came early morning to pick the reburial number from the administrative office at Pusara Aman.

In Malaysia, the situation is different.

The situation is yet to reach the stage were there is a need for the graves to be relocated to a new site but if the land at the burial ground is facing constraints in space, then the alternative would be a tiered graveyard.

This had been done in Penang.

An officer at the Selangor Mufti Office, when queried about the graveyard issue, said:

"So far there is still enough land. There is yet to be a need for development purposes. However Selangor would apply the tiered graves concept when the time arrives. -- Bernama

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