Pasir Ris resident seals door, places fan at doorstep to blow away smoke from neighbour's 'extra large' joss sticks

Desperate times call for desperate measures.

Zi Shan Kow | August 19, 2021, 03:22 PM

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An HDB resident Lin who lives on the seventh floor at 6 Pasir Ris Drive complains that the disputes with her next door neighbour has been ongoing ever since the neighbour moved in 30 years ago.

On the first and fifteenth of every lunar month, the neighbour lights incense and burns joss paper, billowing smoke everywhere for the entire day.

While Lin also conducts the same religious practice, she feels that her neighbour can be more considerate in doing so.

Joss sticks that burn for nine hours

As reported by Lianhe Wanbao, Lin's neighbour typically lights up to three "extra large" joss sticks at once, which burn for nine hours.

According to Lin, just before an important festival, her neighbour will burn at least 20 joss sticks.

That resulted in a large amount of pungent smoke lingering along the corridor, which smells like someone has been smoking non-stop outside her door, Lin described.

Lin told Wanbao that the neighbour will wake up at around 5am, lights the joss sticks, and goes to work.

When the wind carry the smoke towards her house, it can get so bad that her daughter had ever been awoken by the smell in the early morning.

She also complained to the Chinese media of the neighbour's improper burning of paper offerings at the common corridor.

She said that the neighbour often throws a thick stack paper into the metal tin burner and closes the lid before the paper has finished burning, causing smoke and ash from the tin to fill the entire corridor.

She also added that the neighbour's religious altar directly faces another neighbour's front door.

Mitigating the problem

Lin told Wanbao that she has tried to speak to her neighbour about the issue, but the neighbour has disregarded her feedback.

Although Lin also burns joss paper for worship, she feels that her neighbour's behaviour is overstepping boundaries.

"I'm not saying she cannot light joss sticks or burn offerings, but I can only hope we can reach a level of understanding, and not affect each other's day to day lives this way," she said.

To prevent the smoke and smell from entering her home, Lin's family quickly locks the front door once they arrive home.

With newspaper and towels, they plug the gaps of the door, and then use tape to further seal the edges.

She also bought an air purifier and fan to put at door entrance in an attempt to deflect the smoke, but it has been largely ineffective.

The neighbour responds

Wanbao reported that the said neighbour's son asserts that they are not violating any Town Council rules by burning offerings or joss sticks at the common corridor.

He also affirmed that their family uses big joss sticks which burn for nine hours, but said that they don't completely close the metal tin, only halfway.

The son shared that the neighbours expressed unhappiness with them half a year ago, but reiterates that as burning offerings in the corridor does not break any regulations, so he thinks "there is no problem".

That said, he has discussed the matter with his mother and is considering burning their offerings downstairs.

Dealing with neighbourly disputes

The Singapore Civil Defence Force advises residents to always burn incense paper in the incense burners or metal containers provided by the Town Councils.

Additionally, residents should ensure that smouldering embers are completely put out before leaving.

The National Environment Agency also urged devotees to burn incense with consideration for others.

Residents are encouraged to settle their conflicts amicably wherever possible, while formal mediation services are also available at the Community Mediation Centre.

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Top image via Lianhe Wanbao