Going Out like a Rock Star — The Nirvana Way
Death can be perceived with either hope and merriment or sadness and despair. Most cultures, including that of Singapore, typically mark someone’s passing with a traditional burial or cremation, during which tears of anguish flow like water down a mountainside. Hoping to combat this sad state of affairs is the Nirvana Memorial Garden columbarium, a death-pioneer, if you will, dedicated to helping folks go out like a rock star.
Signature to Singapore’s funeral ceremonies is the columbarium, a large burial chamber (kind of like an Egyptian pyramid) used to pay tribute to the departed. Most columbariums contain throngs of prayer-offering monks, billowy clouds of incense smoke, dusty urns stacked about like dominos and, of course, a bunch of really sad people. However, this rule of thumb certainly doesn’t apply to the Nirvana Memorial Garden columbarium in Singapore.
Unlike the gloomy atmosphere of a conventional columbarium, the luxurious, 120,600 sq ft Nirvana Memorial Garden is outfitted with professional-grade carpets, full air conditioning, fine-dining restaurants, a skylit lobby, and lounges adorned with upscale furniture. It’s essentially a resting place for the rich, as the cheapest ‘niche’—a predetermined spot for an urn and other memorial items—costs $2,000, whereas the most luxurious niches run anywhere between $22,000 to $93,000.
According to Reuters, each keycard-protected niche hosts its own set of sofas and rosewood furniture, as well as an urn pedestal, above which lies a “resident Buddha statue” that pulsates with LED lights. Included also are dance-club-like machines that can be made to blow smoke merely via the push of an iPod button. Plus a system has been setup to automatically remind family members of upcoming anniversaries and birthdays.
However, the Nirvana Memorial Garden columbarium is about more than just occasional celebration. Director Jeff Kong explained to Reuters, “This is not a place for people to come only once a year to visit their parents or relatives. We want to create an environment to encourage them to come as often as possible.”
Mr Z W Teo, 29, agrees. During an interview with AsiaOne, he said, “I think the place is special, something that you can’t find elsewhere.” His satisfaction with the six-star columbarium led him to bring his parents, who are in their 60s, to view the memorial. After earning their approval, he forked over $30,000 for a special double niche wherein his parents can lie until 2029, upon which he’ll need to renew the contract. Mind you, one wonders why he purchased a niche to begin with, especially considering that his parents are still so young.
Regardless, the Nirvava Memorial Guardian is open and taking submissions, but it won’t be fully complete until 2011. At that point, as estimated 50,000 to 80,000 niches will be available for purchase. Tick tick tick… time is running out folks. If you want to go out like a rockstar, then I suggest you call them and make a reservation!