When a person passes on, the family member must decide whether to cremate or bury the deceased. In the 1950s and 1960s, the Chinese usually preferred burial ceremony over cremation ceremony because the cremation ceremony at that time was not accepted by the Chinese. Nowadays, the new generation of Chinese, because of the influence of western culture, have gradually accepted the cremation ceremony. Of course, part of the reason is also because the costs and rituals required for cremation is much cheaper and easier than the burial.
In the Cantonese Taoist custom, when the family chooses to carry out the burial, the priest must find an auspicious time and date to bury the deceased. Family members also need to prepare offerings such as fruits, incense and a live chicken, and bring it to the tomb for praying.
In land scarce Singapore, the agency in-charge required the grave to be exhumed after buried for more than 30 years. Family members will be notified on the date and time for exhumation. Most Chinese after being notify, will preferred to do their own exhumation. For Taoist believer, they will approach the contractor to get in touch with a priest to perform prayers ceremony (破土) to exhume the bones of the deceased for cremation and to re-locate the ashes to the ashes pavilion. Of course, the prayer ceremony (破土) also requires the priest to find an auspicious time and date to perform the ceremony so as to avoid family members from offending the mountain spirit.
After the exhumation, the bones will be cremated and return to the family members for their further arrangement. Family members can either relocate the ashes to a place for future generation to continue praying or release the ashes back into the sea.