I was around 12 or 13 at Chennai with my Brother and Mother.
My father who was at Srivilliputtur, Tamil Nadu sent us a Telegram informing us the passing away of my paternal Grandfather at our place.
We rushed Home.
Only to find my father reclining in his easy chair in the pial ( a small place at the entrance of the house meant for relaxing in the evening and to provide resting place for travelers), with my grandfather’s body laid out in Hall inside.
I remember having asked my father,
‘It is your Father who is dead? Why are you not crying?
“Look he is dead, if people can assure me he will come back if I cry, I will cry.
People never come back, so do not waste time and energy .
I was waiting for you both, I have to arrange for Professional Mourners”
He sent for them.
They came Home and started beating their chests and started wailing(Four in number) till the body was taken away from our Home o the Burning Ghat.
I could not understand what they were singing nor what they were doing for the death of my father.
(They were paid, I think about 4 Annas , a high price at that time, equivalent to 25Paise of today(which is not in circulation now).
In Dollar terms it is 25 % of One Rupee which is equal to Rs 58 per Dollar).
Later I came to know about these people.
In Hinduism, excepting the Brahmins, other Communities celebrate Death if it happens to be of an elderly person with a lot of singing, dancing and the atmosphere is festive.
In Brahmin House holds, the mood would be somber, dignified.
They have been trained that Life and Death are inevitable and have to be taken in one’s stride normally.
However there is also a belief that the Dead person’s spirit hovers around the house for 12 days, till the Sabindeekaranam Ceremony is done and would become sad if they are not remembered.
So people have to talk about them during this period.
Where people can not mourn openly engage the Services of Professional Mourners.
There is even a term for doing something with out involvement ,’கூலிக்கு மாரடிக்கிறது (Doing for only money)
In Tamil literature the songs for these occasions are given literary status and are master pieces of emotions, sentiments and Philosophy.
I am proving some Links towards the end of this post.
Now i just read a piece on professional Mourning in England.
Makes an interesting Read.
Human emotions are the same.
Is Wake not about this?