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What You Need to Know About Columbariums: A Comprehensive Guide

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Traditional burial spaces are becoming scarce and more expensive. As a result, columbarium niches have become an increasingly popular choice for those seeking a final resting place for the remains of their loved. This comprehensive guide will provide answers to what is a columbarium, the benefits, and finally how to select one.

Selecting a columbarium requires significant consideration as you may want it to be conveniently accessible for family visits. It should also align with your preferences, budget, and wishes of your loved ones. You may also want to evaluate the aesthetics and design of the columbarium. The current options for private columbariums are aplenty, both indoors and outdoors. Unlike traditional columbariums, private columbariums are designed with comfort in mind, some with 24×7 air-conditioning, comfortable seating sets and beautiful architecture.

What is a Columbarium?

A columbarium is an above-ground structure designed specifically for the interment of cremated remains. Named after the Latin word ”columba”, which means ‘dove’, the structure is divided into small compartments or what is referred to as “niches”. Each niche is designed to hold urn(s) containing cremated remains. Columbariums can be found in various forms, from free-standing structures in cemeteries to dedicated rooms in places of worships (mostly Chinese temples) or associations, and privately owned columbariums.

Benefits of a Columbarium

Columbariums provide a permanent and physical location where family members can visit and remember their departed loved ones. They also help conserve land and are typically less expensive than traditional burial plots. Additionally, they offer a dignified, respectful way to inter cremated remains, with the niche often bearing a plaque with the name of the deceased and pertinent dates.

Types of Columbariums

#1 Traditional Columbariums

Traditional columbariums are usually stand-alone structures that can house many niches. These structures are often made of stone or concrete and may feature intricate architectural designs. The niches are generally arranged in rows and columns, facilitating easy identification and accessibility. You will see a lot of such traditional columbariums in temples and association-owned buildings.

#2 Garden / Outdoor Columbariums

Outdoor columbariums usually features gardens and beautifully landscaped areas to offer a picturesque, serene and peaceful environment to memorialize their departed loves ones. These are usually open-air concept, with plenty of lighting and good ventilation. It is usually convenient for visits and for offerings such as joss stick and food. You will be able to find garden-themed columbarium niches at Nirvana Semenyih, Nirvana Klang or Nirvana Ijok.

#3 Indoor Columbariums

Indoor columbariums are housed within a building, providing protection from outdoor elements. These facilities often feature comfortable seating areas in air-conditioned settings, allowing visitors to spend time in quiet reflection. The design and décor of indoor columbariums can vary widely, from minimalist, modern aesthetics to more traditional, ornate styles. Nirvana Kuala Lumpur aka Nirvana 2 offers a variety of luxurious indoor niches in a fully air-conditioned enviroment to suit different religion, requirements and budgets. Do check it out or call us to arrange a personal site visit.

Factors to Consider When Choosing a Columbarium

Location and Accessibility

When choosing a columbarium, consider its location and accessibility. Is it close to home, or would it require travel? Is the facility easily accessible for all family members, including those with mobility issues? The location should not only be convenient but also provide a comforting, peaceful environment. Some columbarium may only have staircases, so it will be a challenge for those with elderly family members. Nirvana Kuala Lumpur have lifts for the convenience of visitors, and Nirvana Semenyih do have outdoor columbariums options that are wheel-chair accessible. Always remember to check thoroughly during site visits for confirmation.

Size and Capacity

The size and capacity of each niche is equally important. The most common ones are single and double lot options – which means that each niche can accommodate one or two urns. Some columbariums offer “family niche spots” where an entire family can be interred together. Commonly called “family lots” as in similar to “family burial plots”, some may prefer to pre-plan ahead for the future use of family members.


The cost of a columbarium niche can vary widely, depending on a variety of factors such as location, size, and type of columbarium. Always ask about any hidden cost, if any. Never assume that you are presented with a full price on enquiry. It is advisable to fully understand the total cost before making a decision.

Price Ranges for Different Types of Columbariums

The price range for different types of columbariums can vary considerably, starting from RM20K+ and can be a 6-figure sum for family niches that can inter multiple urns. Before you judge the price of each columbarium, it is always best to get some initial pictures to get an idea of what constitute the prices. This should be followed by a site visit.

Selecting the Right Columbarium Provider

#1 Researching Providers

Start by researching different columbarium providers to get a sense of what they offer. Look at their websites, read online reviews, and speak to others who have used their services. Make a list of providers that seem to meet your needs and budget. In Malaysia, Nirvana has over 30 years of experience providing end-to-end bereavement services and is the preferred columbarium choice.

#2 Site Visit

Once you have shortlisted a few providers, arrange to visit their facilities. This will give you a firsthand experience of the environment and allow you to assess aspects such as cleanliness, maintenance, accessibility, and overall atmosphere. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss your requirements with the agent and get a sense of the services they provide.

#3 Reviews and Customer Testimonials

Online reviews and testimonials can provide valuable insights into the experiences of others with a particular provider. Pay attention to comments about the provider’s professionalism, customer service, and quality of facilities. However, keep in mind that reviews should only be onesource of information and that personal preferences and experiences may vary.

Making Funeral Arrangements

For those who has purchased a pre-planned funeral package from Nirvana Care, all arrangements will be handled by the Nirvana Care team. If you would like an idea on what to expect, check out the checklist on what to do when a loved one dies for step-by-step details on what to prepare and what to expect.

Alternatives to Columbariums – Burial

While columbariums offer a convenient and cost-effective alternative to traditional burial, they may not be the right choice for everyone. Traditional burial options still exist and may be preferred by some individuals or families. Burial plots allow for a full-body interment and provide a physical location for visitation and remembrance. Nirvana offers several burial plot options in Semenyih, Klang, Shah Alam and Ijok in the central region – drop us an enquiry for more info.

Columbarium are a meaningful way to honor your departed loved ones.

Columbariums offer a unique and meaningful way to honor and remember loved ones who have passed on. Whether you choose a traditional, garden, indoor, or outdoor columbarium, it’s important to consider factors such as location, size, cost, and additional services. Selecting the right columbarium ensure that your loved one’s memory is preserved in a dignified and respectful manner.

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  1. Pingback: Step By Step Checklist on What To do When A Loved One Dies

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