Yin Foh Kuan Cemetery & Ancestral Hall

Where can you find a cemetery in the middle of a HDB estate? The Yin Foh Kuan Memorial is a Hakka cemetery built in 1887, when the Ying Fo Fui Kun (应和会馆), the first Chinese Hakka clan association in Singapore, bought over a piece of land from the British government to meet the burial demands of the increasing number of association members. The area was then renamed the Twin Dragon Hills, and a Wu Shu Ancestral Hall was built next to it.

The Ancestral Hall consists of two buildings, Wu Fu Tang Ancestral Hall 五福堂 and Shuang Long Shan Memorial Hall 双龙山纪念堂. The Wu Fu Tang Ancestral Hall was built according to the traditional Chinese style ancestral hall, fronted with a  half moon fish pond. Right behind these two buildings, there is a cemetery, with over three thousands tombstones lining in rows forming a very spectacular view.

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Right behind the main hall is a altar, with a five-elements stones in the middle. The five elements are Metal, Wood, Water, Fire and Earth. The stones are believed to have a mystical power of keeping the devils away. Only a few of them are recognisable and the location of these stones are determined by a Feng Shui master.

This cemetery belonging to the Ying Fo Fui Kun was once a sprawling 40 hectares with nearly 3000 graves, located on Holland Close right in the middle of a housing estate, just a stone’s throw from Holland Village. The Yin Foh Kuan cemetery was acquired by the local government in 1965, and the remains from the coffins placed in urns and buried under neat rows of memorial stones on the 1.89 hectare site next to the original ancestral hall.

Twelve of these graves are coffins; the rest contain urns. That the urns were interred like so instead of being placed in a columbarium is all part of the government’s concession. The cemetery, with its uniform rows and identical tiled tombstones, was in fact designed and built with the help of the Housing Development Board. However, to prevent a precedent, it is designated as a public burial ground and no fresh burials are allowed. This means we will never see another arrangement like this in Singapore.

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