The Blue Tarp

Here in the barrio a blue tarp is hung up immediately after someone dies..... this way people who come to pay their respects can take cover from the rain and from the hot sun. It also serves as a way of letting everyone around the victims house know that someone passed away.

The photo below is of a "vela" (more details below) of a man named Ciba on 11th street, the owner of a small store that I buy stuff from often and one of my favorite a motorcycle taxi drivers. He died from a heart condition he was unaware of until the day before he passed away.

Funeral Traditions

The wake continues until 12 noon the next day, followed by burial at the cemetery. It is the family’s choice to retire at midnight and return the next day around 7 am.

Many families follow on with a series of memorial masses held for nine (9) consecutive days. This is known as los nueves dias, novenario, or la vela. When and where they will be held will be announced. It is not necessary to go to these masses unless you were a close friend of the person or family, especially if you attended the funeral. One is never expected to attend all the masses unless you want to do so. If you were not able to attend the funeral you should go to one of the masses. You might choose to go to the last one that usually will be announced in the press. This marks the end of the mourning period ceremonies.

The nine days of mourning usually consist of three days of grieving (crying and reminiscing). 3 days of silence (thinking and reverence). The last 3 days are for release (accepting and separating).

To "cumplir" is to act in accordance with the standard social procedures. A person will go to a funeral whether or not it is his desire; it is his duty. To "cumplir" is important in this society. It signifies respect and caring.

Many of the poorer people are only laid out for 1 day in the home. This is because of the heat and fast decomposition of the body. Also, the caskets usually have a window for viewing. Maybe this is to keep the smell in and bugs out.

Flowers are not expected.

Only good friends and family are expected at the burial.

Dominicans show much respect for their dead. A funeral is an event that will gather people together, including family members, who may not have seen each other for a number of years. Inside the chapel it is sedated but outside, there will be a lot more liveliness almost reminiscent of a normal social occasion.

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