Columbarium gives women's ashes to wrong family

Columbarium gives women's ashes to wrong family

SINGAPORE - A family got a rude shock when they visited the columbarium housing their mother's urn during the Qing Ming festival (also known as the tomb-sweeping festival) earlier this month.

The dead woman's urn was missing from her usual spot at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery at Bright Hill Road.

On Sunday, her son, who wanted to be known only as Ray, discovered from monastery staff that his mother's urn had been claimed by a man with the necessary "legal documents" last year.

Baffled, Ray's father produced a receipt which showed that he was the rightful owner of the urn.

Within a day, it became clear that the urn had been given to the wrong family.

Both women had the same name in Chinese and both urns were placed in the monastery in the same year - and in the same block at the columbarium.

Ray's mother died in 1983 while the other woman died in 1959.

The other woman's remains were exhumed, cremated and placed at the columbarium in 1983.


Ray's father contacted the family who took his wife's urn, but was met with hostility.

"They were shocked and did not believe us," said Ray, 35. "They even wanted to go to the police."

The other family was persuaded about the mix-up only after columbarium staff explained the situation.

Both Ray and the monastery staff declined to provide the contact of the other family.

A spokesman for Kong Meng San Phor Kark See Monastery told The New Paper that the other family had lost the urn's original receipt.

They applied for a declaration letter through a lawyer so they could remove the urn and transfer it to another columbarium.

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