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Tuesday August 9, 2011

Keeping it as far away as possible

ALTHOUGH demand for columbariums is on the rise in Ipoh, the facility should be away from residential areas so that the living and dead can co-exist in harmony, said Enlightened Heart Buddhist Association secretary Ng See Gee.

He suggested that columbariums be at least two to three kilometres away from housing estates

“This is to avoid nearby residents from being disturbed by funeral processions or ceremonies that would be constantly held at the columbarium,” he told MetroPerak.

Ng added that he understood that most people now prefer to cremate the dead and store the ashes in a columbarium due to lack of burial sites in the city.

Sharing the same sentiment is Bao En Shi Temple adviser Ho You Meng who said that columbariums located next to housing areas could affect residents psychologically.

“The general population does not like to be associated with matters relating to death,” said Ho, who is also the Tapah Buddhist Association chairman.

He said columbariums are places where urns and jars containing ashes of the dead are stored and that annual ceremonial prayers like Qing Ming or Hungry Ghost Festivals would be performed.

Some of the more famous columbariums in Ipoh are at the Sam Poh Tong cave temple near Gunung Rapat, Perak Tong near Tasek and the Kek Lok Seah temple in Bercham.

Both Sam Poh Tong and Kek Lok Seah have crematoriums and the nearest residential areas are within one or two kilometres away.

A Bercham resident only known as Lim, said staying near a columbarium often gave her the jitters.

The 36-year-old housewife, who stayed about 2km from Kek Lok Seah temple in Bercham, said she would, if possible, avoid passing by the area.

“I do not know why that place is always more dark during the night. I will not use the road, especially nearing the Hungry Ghost Festival,” she said.

Finance manager Au Sing Leong said most feng shui practitioners would not recommend people to stay near columbariums or crematoriums.

“To them, living near a place for the dead is bad for one’s general wellbeing,” said the 55-year-old father of two, who once lived in Taman Song Choon that was located about 1km from Sam Poh Tong.

“I am not superstitious and have no qualms staying near a columbarium.

“My only disapproval is when it causes traffic congestion during special occasions,” said Au, who currently resides at Taman Cempaka.

Leong Lee Fong, a 48-year-old clerk from Taman Saikat, said the authorities should ensure development near hills did not cause rocks to fall and that the environment was protected.

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Residents dead against columbarium project