Yesterday evening after we had refreshed ourselves from our day of all things beginning with “b,” we were fortunate to get to see (from a respectful distance), a traditional funeral procession.
Someone in the village had died and this procession was taking the body to the grave to be buried. Sometime later, the body will be cremated. However, according to Tini, it won’t actually be the body; rather, a handful of the soil on the grave will be placed in a container that is dressed to look like a person and on which is a photograph of the person and the container will be burned. Because the cremation ceremonies cost so much, often, families wait until there are a number of people to be cremated before performing the ceremony in order to share in the expense.
The procession we saw, as I said, was taking the body to the cemetery to be buried. A number of women led the procession balancing offerings for the gravesite. The body was carried in a coffin on top of a litter carried by villagers. Grandsons of the deceased sit on top of the coffin. The grandsons have an important role in the funeral rituals. It is very important for a family to have sons and grandsons. Finally, the entire village followed behind. It was a moving experience; especially with Tini quietly explaining to me what I was seeing.
On a happier note, before, and then after, the funeral procession, we heard loud chanting coming from somewhere in the village. The chanting was part of a baby’s three month celebration. I don’t know what it’s all about but it did go on for a very long time.
We certainly wouln’t have had these experiences if we had stayed in a more populated area.