Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Grave Diggers

The month of fasting known as Ramadan is fast (pardon the pun) approaching. One tradition here is for families to visit the cemetery and pay their respects to dead family members. They pour rose water and rose petals on the plot, say a little prayer and are on their way. This same process is repeated at the end of Ramadan. Any cemetery at this time of year is an odd site for anybody from a western nation. There are many advantageous people selling rose water and rose petals, too many food carts to count, not to mention people selling books and glow sticks right in the foot path of the cemetery. This is not the worst of it by any means.
I was shocked to find out that most Jakartan families do not actually own their burial plot, they rent them forever, literally. It is not uncommon for numerous family members to be buried in the same plot. This I believe is for cost and lack of space. Some cemeteries in Jakarta are the biggest chunk of green space around for days. Here is the screwed up part: Family members must pay $50 or more every year to the cemetery or they will lose their plot. I'm not sure if they dig up the old bodies or just throw a new one on top but that is the deal; pay or lose your "eternal" resting place. It is also customary to give the workers at the cemetery a little tip to make sure that they cut the grass around it and brush the leaves off every so often.
Sadly enough, this is the worst time of year to be forking out cash for constantly cash-strapped Jakartans. The end of Ramadan is not unlike Christmas (er um excuse me I mean the "Holiday Season"). People exchange gifts and whoever can afford to do so goes back home to their village. Obviously, this time of year is not cheap what with all of the festivities and train tickets etc.
This has nothing to do with me or living in Jakarta really but I just thought it was so weird that I needed to write about it. I do like the idea of being buried without a casket, I've always found that a bit over the top but I'd hate to be dug up and left on the side of the road just because my family didn't have a few extra bucks.
So much for "Rest in Peace"

No comments:

Post a Comment