Friday, August 25, 2006

Why people or strip dance at funerals

Slightly unlike the other posts in my blog, but this question has been lingering for quite a long time now. Although I personally haven't witnessed people dancing (called 'Dappankuthu', in TamilNadu, India), I've seen just too many films to ignore it as a figment of a movie director's imagination. The point is: people do dance during funerals. But why?

My question was: Isn't dancing supposed to be a 'fun' thing, lightening up the mood et al? Why would anyone want to do it during a funeral when you are supposed to mourn?

I think we could deduct some answers from the Chinese phenomenon. According to this BBC article, funerals in many Chinese villages are still accompanied not with dancing but with striptease. (yeah, you read that right!). According to the Chinese tradition, a good turnout for a funeral indicates that the person who died is a big-shot in the society or something and hence a striptease is organized to increase the people turnout. Incredible but true. Guess it can happen only in China.

I guess the phenomenon is similar to India. The Wikipedia article says the dance is performed in India to relieve emotional stress of the dead one.
During funerals, it is performed in all parts of Tamilnadu to pacify a departed soul when his/her funeral procession is taking place, therefore it also has the name 'Savoo Koothu' Which literally means 'Death Dance', most commonly accompanied by instruments specific to this type of dance.
I would imagine there is another reason since a bunch of hired guys (experts, if you will) always do these jobs. Although people might not turn out to watch the dance during the funeral, I think a dance accompanied with loud music creates quite a lot of ruffle in the surrounding to indicate that something is going on and to create awareness about the incident. This might have been especially applicable in old times when people lived in small villages and such an event accompanied with loud noise could be something for an entire village.

I think it might be a bit stupid to even think about all this, but why leave a ‘Why’ question unanswered? By the way, is there a link containing explanations for Indian cultural nuances anywhere on the web? Stuff that could answer long held traditions such as these that are inexplicable on first thought?


At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 3:46:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was searching a link for the Savoo Koothu for one of my foreign friend. i found your post in the blog.

I have seen your questions. just curious nobody answered it ha ha.. So let me try.

1)To see the death as a beginning, and not the end.
People welcome death more with joy, rather than sorrow. So the inscriptions of the dead person's life, with satirical verses, describing the main events of their life.(hmm.. this part is not happening here these days. we just sing something)

2)The soul is leaving this earth. It should have to leave with happiness.

3)we came here with the joy. we have to leave with the joy.

hmm.. somebody can add more :))

At Tuesday, November 07, 2006 6:49:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

To say I'm surprised (that someone actually posted a comment on this post of mine) would be an understatement of the century. Well, I don't want to delve too much into this, but I really think we become absolutely pointless after death that no cheering up can do any good to anybody.

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 6:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, this post has been around for a while, but I found it through a Google search, and out of morbid curiosity, decided to follow it.

The strange thing is, I'm from Tamil Nadu, and I've never heard of people dancing at funerals. But I suppose it's a Hindu tradition, and in Hinduism, there are many different sects with their own rituals and such, and my particular sect probably doesn't follow said rituals.

At Thursday, December 21, 2006 8:12:00 PM, Blogger Govar said...

@Anon: You haven't seen or you haven't heard? Its alright if you havent seen it coz most havent (including me), but if you haven't heard, you better start watching movies. :)


Post a Comment

<< Home