100 Sights of Chennai 8: Funerals
Amid the honking of car horns a steady clatter of drumming builds. Penny Whistles pierce the air and suddenly you rush to the window to find out if somebody is staging a 19th Century military reconstruction complete with muskets and cannon. But no, it’s at this point everyone else in the room explains that we are next to a cemetery and you have just experienced a funeral procession arriving.
Funerals in Chennai are, shall we say, somewhat different to the west. Lets just say that the Wake appears to have already taken place and so the men in the parade are already well lubricated. Drumming, dancing, even acrobatics are common, although only the men will accompany the procession. There is a suggestion that this party atmosphere is only prevalent in lower caste funerals and this is a reaction to lower caste weddings having been historically restricted in their exuberance. There are a plethora of customs surrounding death and funerals in Tamil Nadu and you can read more about them here: http://www.webindia123.com/tamilnadu/PEOPLE/DEATH.HTM