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November 19th, 2008

1:58 PM

It costs so much just to die nowadays

I think the cost of a Chinese funeral has gone out of hand. When my late mother departed from this world, we spent RM30,000 for her funeral ceremony alone, which I personally think is a ridiculous sum (to compare, the average Malaysian with a degree earns an average of RM1,500 to 2,000 a month in an entry-level job). That is not counting the grave plot, which caused a whopping RM11,000 for a small square area of the ground. (If I want a spot in the higher ground, usually reserved for dead millionaires because of the "luck" asociated with such sites, the amount could easily hit RM500,000). The coffin cost RM4,000. It is typical for a Chinese funeral to last for three days. Each day costs RM3,000 (including the services of the Taoist priests, the prayer accessories, the stuff we burn to the deceased, the cost of rental of the tents, chairs, and tables, et cetera). It's no surprise that one can easily bankrupt oneself paying for the funeral for a loved one.

It's just a little more expensive to hold a Chinese wedding.

I don't understand why we Chinese need to be so extravagant in such moments. When I think about it, all the expensive displays seem to serve no purpose. Especially when I compare the cost of a Chinese funeral to a Muslim funeral.

A Muslim funeral costs the family of the deceased nothing. That's right, nothing. There is no need for coffins - the body of the deceased is wrapped in cloth and buried a day after the passing. The imam at the mosque performs the rites for free. Volunteers will help you dig the grave and conduct the burial.

When I compare that to the ridiculous commercialization of Chinese funeral rites, I think I will convert on my deathbed just to save my family a few bucks.

3 comment(s).

Posted by Ann Somerville:

But what happens to Chinese Muslims? :)
November 19th, 2008 @ 3:43 PM

Posted by Mrs G:

Why, they get the same treatment as other Muslims. I'm always amazed at how the Muslims in my country treat weddings and funerals in a more reasonable and modest manner compared to the way the Chinese tend to splash extravagantly.

My son wants to get married this December. Given that a typical Chinese wedding can cost tens of thousands of dollars, I told him that my husband and I won't object if he chooses to have a simple ceremony, maybe for close relatives. Unfortunately, his girlfriend's family is of the more "conversative" school of thought, expecting the bridegroom to foot not only a big dowry but also TWO (used to be one, but current fashion demands two) wedding dinners, each one for fifty plus tables. True, wedding guests are expected to provide generous monetary gifts so eventually the money spent can be recouped, but I shudder just thinking of the money we need to cough up first as downpayments, et cetera. I always think the money is better of saved for the time when the kid arrives because that's when the marriage will become REALLY expensive.
November 19th, 2008 @ 4:11 PM

Posted by MB (Leah):

I learned something new today. I lived in Japan for 5 years and spent a lot of time outside of that traveling throughout other Asian Countries. For some reason, I thought outside of Christian, that people were cremated. I just assumed that was a standard practice. Very interesting. Are there no options for Chinese other than to do it that way?
November 19th, 2008 @ 9:13 PM