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Rituals for infant spirits on the rise here

SEND-OFF: A monk conducts a ceremony for infant spirits. TNP FILE PHOTO

A popular practice in Taiwan, the ritual of praying for infant spirits started gaining ground in Singapore in recent years.

Zue Zuen Ge was the first temple in Singapore to offer the ceremony in 2005.

Now, there are rituals on a smaller scale held at home shrines and temples.

Zue Zuen Ge managing director Hillary Phang, 47, estimates that it has performed rituals for more than 10,000 infant spirits since.

He said: "Most of the 'ying ling' (infant spirits) are those of aborted foetuses or miscarriages."

AUSPICIOUS

The day-long mass ritual is usually held on an auspicious date and time selected by Yuan Zhong Xiu, a geomancy centre that is also managed by Mr Phang.

Some parents will also pay for an urn to be placed after the ceremony in one of the rooms in Zue Zuen Ge for three years. About 5,000 urns are placed there.

After three years, Zue Zuen Ge will perform another ceremony where the urns are "cremated" and given a sea burial.

Parents are discouraged from paying respects after the ceremony to "prevent the infant spirit from holding on and refusing to leave", Mr Phang said.

Psychologist Richard Lim said that superstitions aside, the rituals serve as closure for the parents.

"They will find peace with themselves and feel they can finally move on."