Cemeteries and Exhumations in Singapore

Cemeteries might be a grave (pun intended) subject to some but think – have you ever seen other cemeteries of different faiths before? I don’t know about you but my first time being in different cemeteries of different faiths was last year. It was an eye-opening experience for I have only set foot in Muslim cemeteries before.

Bidara Cemetery

Singapore Exhumation Rules

Did you know that in Singapore, graves aged 15 years and above are exhumed? This was requested by Singapore Housing Development Board due to the pressing matter of scarce land and vast development in Singapore. Under the existing soil-burial for Muslims, the existing land in Pusara Aman Cemetery (one of the cemeteries still open in Singapore) is projected to last until 2046 only. However, with the new burial system, the 318ha cemetery will be open for burial until 2130.

In Singapore, the remains of eight deceased (claimed remains) are gathered and buried together in one same new grave (or crypt). Those eight will be the remains of related deceased.

For unclaimed remains, 16 unclaimed deceased are buried into one crypt.

Here is a simple graph for your better understanding :


Exhumation Procedure of Muslim Graves

When we first received the call about exhumation procedure on my grandfather’s grave two years ago, we started looking for other seven names that will join him in the new burial ground.

My Grandfather passed away in 1981 which makes it more than 30 years ago. He was buried at Pusara Aman Cemetery, Block 4. He will be relocated to Pusara Abadi Cemetery, which is about 10 minutes drive from the current cemetery.

This is how Muslim graves looked like before exhumation.

Old Muslim Graves

  1. After 8 names of deceased are gathered, their names and block number (of graves) are registered with MUIS (Majlis Ugama Islam Singapura).
  2. Date and time of exhumation will be informed by MUIS to next of kin few months before exhumation day through phone and letter.

My family and I arrived at Pusara Aman Cemetery, a part of the Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex and gathered for briefing at the surau of Pusara Aman around 10am. About 45 minutes later, we were informed that exhumation process has started and we went to my grandfather’s grave – a 3 minutes drive from the surau – to bear witness the exhumation process.

Bulldozers can only be used at easily-accessible locations. Since my grandfather’s grave block is further in and not accessible to any type of vehicles, manual grave digging is done.

It took almost an hour and a half for the grave digger to get to the remains. We witnessed him uncovering the grave as he asked our permission to collect the remains of my grandfather. Each grave digger is provided fresh white linen to place any remains of the deceased. After he had gathered all the remains and we acknowledged that there are none left in the grave, the while linen is sent to a station set up nearby to clean the remains before the white linen is tied and placed with the other 7 names that will be buried together.

It was a very sad and sombre moment for us all.

After the remains of all 8 deceased are cleaned and gathered, we were informed of the new burial site block number at the Pusara Abadi Cemetery.

New Muslim Burial Graves Process

The new burial ground involves concrete beams and walls installed in graves to form a crypt. After the remains are lowered into the grave, they will be covered with some soil before a grass-covered concrete lid is used to seal the grave. The crypt looks something like this :

New Graves CryptSlabs

There were about 7 or 8 open crypts and other family members present at the new site. Each family member of the 8 remains that were collected will wait for their turn for the burial. Family members of deceased will gather together when shrouds are being placed in the crypt one by one. After all shrouds are placed in the crypt, they are covered with soil and an ustaz (a religious man) recites verses from the Quran as we prayed along with him.

After that, the lid is covered.

A plaque with the names of all the deceased, the block and plot number will be placed on top of the grave after it is properly covered with soil.

Grave number Muslim cemetery

New graves are very different than old graves. Saudi Arabia, Australia and the United Kingdom also used this same burial system.

We were warned not to place any adornments, chairs or anything else on the graves. Those who placed plastic fences (like the photo below) will be removed without warning.

Chairs, fences, etc are prohibited and will be discarded without warning
Chairs, fences, etc are prohibited and will be discarded without warning

The whole exhumation process ended around 3.30pm. In total, it took about 5 hours for the process to complete.

Cemeteries at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

Before we left the cemetery complex, we visited the Catholics, Protestants, Persians, Jewish and Lawn Cemetery opposite the Muslim Cemetery.

Catholic Cemetery

Catholic Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Complex

This is the Catholic Cemetery. Just like the Muslim cemetery, the Catholic graves were separated by blocks based on the years the bodies were buried. Exhumation of some of the Christian graves started in 2001 and transferred to Lawn Cemetery. Exhumation of Chinese and Hindu graves began at 2004. Exhumation of Muslim graves started at 2007.

Protestant Cemetery

Protestant Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

The Christians are divided by sects and so are their cemetery. This is the Protestant Cemetery, although they looked similar to the Catholic Cemetery, they are not the same. As usual, the graves were separated by different number of blocks according to the years the bodies were buried.

Lawn Cemetery

Lawn Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

The Lawn Cemetery is a Christian Cemetery but these are the exhumed remains. The new Muslim cemetery at Pusara Abadi Cemetery looks similar to this.

Persian Cemetery

Persian Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

Persian Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

I have never seen a Persian Cemetery or tombstone before so this was a first time for me. The tombs are in a gated section and the gate was locked so I couldn’t go in to explore the writings on the tombstones.

Jewish Cemetery

Jewish Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

Jewish Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery ComplexJewish Cemetery Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex

Just like the Persian Cemetery, the Jewish Cemetery is in a gated section and locked. It didn’t seem like there were anybody near the area and so, I only managed to take a picture of the cemetery from outside. The Jewish cemetery is bigger than the Persian cemetery but not as big as the Christian cemeteries.

I was wondering what the Hebrew words written on the signboard meant. Does anybody here read Hebrew?

Other Cemeteries

There are other cemeteries at Choa Chu Kang Cemetery Complex which also includes the Chinese Cemetery, Ahmadiyya Jama’at Cemetery, Bahá’í Cemetery and Hindu Cemetery but due to limited time, we didn’t visit them.

Written by 

LizzaBella is a part-time traveler, amateur photographer and videographer and writer. Connect with LizzaBella through her social medias today!

25 thoughts on “Cemeteries and Exhumations in Singapore

  1. i didnt know much about exhumations until i read this post. an eye opener for me!

  2. Oh wow this is definitely an interesting and different kind of post. Exhumations need to be done properly

  3. Aliza sara says:

    Wow! theres a lot of cemeteries that i havent visit yet. i hope their souls are at peace.

  4. now i know what other religions cemetary look like. Gosh! what can i say about exhumation…the next time we know ..no way to visit our deceased one!

  5. Great infor for us to understand the culture of different religion.

  6. Wow interesting topics. Thanks for sharing this useful info with us hehe.

  7. Wow… i will never dare adventure anywhere near cemeteries yet alone blog about them lolx… Salute to your bravery. Because sometimes our camera might capture more than meets the eyes

  8. Yokeching says:

    Thanks a lot for your sharing, I never know all about this until I read your blog.

  9. Interesting read! thanks so much for sharing this.

  10. I have never heard of exhumations before and this is actually quite interesting to read!

  11. Wow I don’t know that cemetery got so many knowledge to learn! Thanks for the write up!

  12. How interesting despite the story being about a pretty grave subject!

  13. This is my first time learning about the New Muslim Burial Graves Process in Singapore. Thanks for sharing this.

  14. morbid subject, but very intriguing too.. i think this is a natural progression and bound to happen considering the lack of space in Singapore.

    Interesting read!

  15. didn’t know about this, but i guess they have to since they have lack of space

  16. An eye opener post. I knew of exhumations because some want to relocate to better spots – popular in Malaysia now. Am surprised that in Singapore it has now come to an extend because land is scarce.

  17. A little too early for me to be looking for one, but good to know there’s information like this out there.

  18. Didn’t know about this until I read your post, thanks for the info sharing 🙂

  19. Definitely an eye opener Bella… Thanks for all the information on the SG exhumation.. I am sure at one point of another my family will have to go through this too.. though I think my grandma’s was already exhumed.


  20. Thanks for sharing. This is the very first time to hear about the rules.

  21. woah. first ever cemetery post I have read. It reminds me of the Nirvana Memorial Park.

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