THE BIKINI AT THE FUNERAL
So appalled was a pastor at the attire he witnessed recently at funerals in Barbados that he indicated to those planning to attend future funerals that it was okay for them to wear whatever they had and not be restricted in wearing black and while clothing.
The same thing may have to happen in Guyana. Traditionally, the colors for mourning are black and white or dark maroon. Most Guyanese at funerals try to stick to these colours.
However, it is not the colour coding that is presenting the problem but the nature of some of the outfits worn by mourners. There are men who are going to funerals dressed in banditos. And whether it is raining or shining, a great many of the mourners at funerals don dark shades these days.
The headwear and shades are not making a cultural statement. It is all about fashion. With this display of fashion, sobriety is being thrown out of the window.
You sometimes wonder whether some of the female mourners are dressed for a funeral or whether they are dressed for a party. If you attend a funeral these days, you will find that many female mourners are wearing evening clothes and some of these outfits are far from modest.
In fact many of them are downright outrageous with deep plunging necklines and short hemlines. There is a lot of cleavage and much leg on display breaking with tradition which dictated simplicity and modesty in dress at funerals.
Things are changing rapidly at funerals these days and many old timers feel that there is a need for us to return to basics when it comes to funerals.
Unfortunately, we may have long passed that stage. We may in fact be entering a phase in which we are unable to distinguish between a wake house and a party, whether someone is dressed for requiem service or a night out at the discotheque. Inhibitions are being let go when it comes to funerals.
There used to be a time, for example, when if a criminal died, persons would be embarrassed to be seen at his funeral. The onlookers used to outnumber the mourners because even close friends used to be ashamed to be seen at the funeral of a criminal.
Not anymore. In fact, many persons now take great pride in being seen at the funerals of those associated with criminal wrongdoing.
And they are keen not just to be seen at these funerals but they dress in a way to make themselves very noticeable. Some of them relish in the occasion, often making an exhibition of themselves by their dress and behaviour.
What we are seeing is a change in our value-systems. The funerals of criminals are now occasions for grand processions and partying. Loud music and elaborate dress are on display and alcohol is freely consumed both during and after the funeral.
In the old days, you could not see a beer bottle at the burial ground. Today persons stand outside the church consuming alcohol. Beers are distributed at the funeral parlour. And when the funeral procession is moving, drinking takes place and loud music can be heard.
There also used to be a time when a funeral procession was underway that persons would either tip or take their hats or caps off out of respect for the dead. These days, persons are attending funerals with all manner of things on their heads and there is no tipping of hats when a funeral procession passes.
In fact, no one now gives way to a funeral procession. In the old days when a funeral procession was passing, drivers not in the procession stopped to give the procession the right of way. These days, no respect is shown to funeral processions.
But the most disconcerting aspect which no doubt triggered the response of that pastor from Barbados concerns the outfits that are worn at funerals. Some mourners need an education about how to dress at funerals.
Given the price of some of the outfits on display at funerals including high-heeled shoes, it cannot be a case of those persons who are inappropriately dressed not having any other clothing to wear. The cost of the accessories alone can refinance an entire wardrobe.
What we are seeing is a case of a break with tradition and it is always sad because traditions are so important. One day someone is going to turn up at a funeral in a bikini.