Having a proper funeral is probably anyone’s final wish and is the desire of the family members left behind. Although different religions have distinctive rites and rituals to celebrate death, each one has a rigid procedure to be complied to. Muslims and Christians bury their deceased in separate graveyards, whereas the Hindus usually go for cremation. A funeral is a solemn event, yet it can also reflect your economic power. In Indonesia, a growing number of people with a high disposable income have set the trend for having extravagant funerals ceremonies. Due to this, funeral businesses have become increasingly profitable.
The Funeral Business
Why do families spend so much on funeral ceremonies? For most people, the funeral of a loved one is the last chance to show respect, mend mistak
es and be grateful to the person for all the merits in his or her life. Wealthy families around Indonesia are willing to spend millions to get the best funeral service for the deceased. The willingness to spend lavishly for a funeral has turned out to be a profitable opportunity for funeral services and organizers. Depending on the needs of the client, funeral services could include flower arrangements, decorations, memorial services, tomb procurement, catering services and makeovers for the deceased.
For the people with lower income, the funeral comprises of a simple ceremony at a public cemetery. Public cemeteries charge about Rp100,000 (S$11) for using the plot for the first time. The families of the deceased then have to pay maintenance charges as well as extension lease fee every 3 months. The maintenance for public cemeteries is usually pretty basic and limited. Moreover, their locations are usually not in the prime area. Those who have higher incomes are willing to pay higher in order to get better services and location.
The new trend for funerals in Jakarta is having burials in luxurious cemetery parks. In these well-managed cemeteries, clients could choose their preferred locations on top of customized services and a wide range of amenities. The prices range from Rp300-500 million (S$26,100-43,500) for a stylish funeral ceremony, depending on the types of flowers, color themes for the ceremonies, professional make-ups services, quality of the coffin and the spot for burial. Professional morticians can earn up to Rp 2,000,000 (S$175) for providing make-up services and reconstruction efforts for the dead. The limited coffin makers in Jakarta are benefiting from the increased use of caskets and coffins as well. On an average, a coffin maker sells about 10-15 coffins each day. The price of each coffin ranges from Rp5million-15million ($435-$1305) depending on the quality of the material and the ornaments used. The decorations on the coffin varied according to the culture and religion of the clients. For example, the Buddhists prefer carved coffins and the Christians prefer coffins with images of Jesus painted on them, whereas Hindus prefer coffins made of materials suitable for cremation.
Popular Funeral Businesses
As land is scarce and prices are steadily increasing every day, people have started planning early for death. Buying burial land and signing up for memberships in funeral foundations in advance are the current trend for securing safe and affordable funerals in the future. The trend setter for this was the San Diego Hills Memorial park (SDH), the largest luxury cemetery of the country that was constructed in 2007. Located in Karawang, West Java, SDH is owned by the Lippo group and is about 25 kilometers away from Jakarta. The cemetery is the permanent resting abode for several prominent people in Indonesia including celebrities and high-ranking officials. It covers an area of 1,240 acres and has modern facilities such as a swimming pool, rowing boats, a running track, an Italian restaurant, a dedicated helicopter pad and can house up to 5 million people. In the beginning, a single-grave plot in SDH was sold at Rp3.5 million ($400). However, today the gross price for the same type of plot can go up to Rp27-70 million ($2350-6090). This does not slow down the grave sales revenue, which in fact has been able to sell about 15,000 burial spaces already. The most expensive burial site in SDH is known as the ‘Peak of the Peak’ and has been purchased for Rp6.3 billion ($667,800) by the family of Jusuf Merukh, a mining magnate of Indonesia. Other prominent cemeteries businesses include the Taman Kenangan Lestari a.k.a Lestari Memorial Park (LMP) in Karawang, Al-Azhar Memorial Garden and the Taman Giri Tama cemetery in Tonjong, South Jakarta.