Guyanese are highly superstitious. They believe that when you bury the dead that you have to inter them with all manner of things in order to give them some comforts in the afterlife.
It is a nice thought that your family cares so much about you that when you die, they will want to ensure that some of your possessions are taken with you. The drawback, however, is that what may be superstition to the grieving is a sweepstake to the tomb raiders.
An interesting story appeared in yesterday’s Kaieteur News. It reported that the police in Berbice were investigating the vandalism of a tomb at No. 66 Village Corentyne. A relative reported that when he went to the cemetery he found the casket outside of the tomb and the body removed from the casket.
What was interesting was that the police are now investigating not only who vandalized the tomb but also the removal of US$300 that was buried with the dead.
Now why in the country rife with criminals, including tomb raiders, would anyone place US$300 in a coffin? What were their hopes: that the deceased spirit would find his way to the United States and would need some spending money?
Superstition is rife. People place all manner of things in a coffin. Some of it is symbolical of the love the relatives have for their loved ones. If the person was cricketer or loved cricket, they would place a cricket bat or ball in the coffin.
Archeologists have dug up the remains of prehistoric tombs and found skeletons buried with personal possession and tools. The Vikings usually buried their dead with their weapons. In some cultures it is practice to leave food for the souls of the dead.
King Tut was buried in an elaborate chamber which even contained an antechamber equipped with chair, couches and even chariots. Statues made of gold were also discovered in the antechamber.
Right now the search is on for the grave of Alexander the Great. Who know what treasures will be unearthed when it is found?
There was a time when Guyanese used to bury their loved ones with their jewelry or medals. After the tomb raiders started to break into tombs, this practice stopped.
In fact, some persons are refusing to bury their dead in aluminium caskets since this is favorite haunt of the tomb raiders. They would wait until the mourners leave the burial ground and then break into the tomb, empty the coffin of the cadaver and cart off the caskets.
I have seen persons being buried with their spectacles. When I asked one of the relatives why this was so, he answered, “The dead man like read.” I then told him that perhaps he should buy a library and place it next to the coffin in the burial ground so that the dead man would have something to read.
I have been to ‘soul’ funerals and see friends of the deceased place beers and malt products into the coffin for the deceased to take with him or her to the afterlife. Little do these persons know that these bottles will explode within the coffin when the tomb is sealed. This is one reason why persons do not place perfume bottles into the encased tombs.
Earlier this year, the tomb of Karl Marx, considered the father of socialism, was vandalized. A plaque bearing the identity of Marx was disfigured. Vandals in Ireland stole the head of a mummified dead in February this year. It was later recovered. It is doubtful if the person or persons who stole that US$300 from the dead recently at No. 66 Village are ever going to return the money. And it should serve as a lesson to persons that they should avoid burying their dead valuable possessions.
But given the superstitious nature of Guyanese you can bet that burying dead with their possessions will continue. Recently, one person was asking whether it was possible to have a WiFi connection in his coffin when he dies so that he can log on to Facebook.
Tomb raiders are on the prowl in Guyana. Not even the dead is safe in this God-forsaken land. No wonder so many people are opting for cremation.
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