Mandai crematorium and columbarium complex is a public cemetery operated by the Government of Singapore. Located at Mandai which is not far from Yishun New Town, it is the only government crematorium in the entire Singapore which makes it popular as resting place for most Singaporeans because cemeteries have become much more expensive as of late due to limited spaces. Cremation is also prioritized by most Buddhists as a proper way of burial because for them it is the closest thing to Nirvana.
Meaning of Nirvana in Buddhism
If you set foot in the area of Mandai crematorium and columbarium complex, you can easily feel the solemnity and peacefulness of the place. People who visit the place are looking for that atmosphere in order to pay respect and pray for their loved ones who are buried in this cemetery. If you observe the architecture and design of the building, you will also notice the rich influence of Buddhism along with ancient Singaporean culture in it. Even though the cemetery is not exclusive to Buddhists, a big percentage of people who are laid to rest in here follow the said religion.
Following Buddhist tradition, the concept of Nirvana is commonly associated with death and eventual rebirth. Nirvana is the ultimate goal of the Buddhist path and has the literal meaning of “blowing out” or “quenching”. The concept is purely spiritual and is interpreted by Buddhists as the extinction of “three fires” or “three poisons” known as passion, ignorance and aversion. In the process that these humanly fires or poisons are eliminated then the person is being reborn and Nirvana has been attained.
Among other Buddhist doctrines, the concept is likened to states of anatta (non-self) and sunyata (emptiness). Some Buddhist monks also say that Nirvana is the absence of weaving (vana) of activity of the mind and elimination of humanly desires along with an escape from the forests. There are also other interpretations of it but the ones mentioned above are the most common explanations of Nirvana.
There are generally two types of Nirvana which is the sopadhishesa-nirvana (with remainder) and anupadhishesa-nirvana (without remainder). The Buddha is the only entity who was able to achieve both states of nirvana. In other tradition, there is also this ultimate goal known as Buddhahood which does not follow the concept of Nirvana but instead the person is infinitely reborn in order to liberate people from the “fires” and “poisons” of human life to guide them into the Buddhist path.
Death and Rebirth
The people laid to rest in the Mandai crematorium and columbarium complex are not believed to be gone and forgotten but they are rather reborn in a new entity free from the sinful imperfections of mortality. They are in a much better place now because of the kind of life that they have lived in this world. In the Buddhist tradition, there is no other way to complete the ultimate goal but through death and eventual rebirth.