CHAIRMAN of the Siparia Regional Corporation Dr Glenn Ramadharsingh said he is saddened by what he calls the "desecration" of the Shore of Peace cremation site, where within recent times, alcohol, blasting music and even car and motorcycle stunts have been part of the cremation ceremony by some mourners.
To clamp down on this form of disrespect to both the dead and their mourning relatives and friends, Ramadharsingh promised the installation of CCTV cameras and tighter security at the cremation site.
Allana Maharaj, in a letter published in Newsday last week, wrote about the "distasteful and inconsiderate" action she witnessed while attending a cremation for a relative at the Shore of Peace located at the Mosquito Creek in south Trinidad.
“There were other cremations taking place on that day, including one held in a most scandalous manner. The attendees at that cremation had absolutely no consideration for other grieving families.
“There were extremely loud, reckless bikers, a blaring music truck, alcohol, trailer-drawn jet ski, cars etc, all indiscriminately encroaching on the pyre of another deceased person. The chaos resembled that of a street show,” Maharaj wrote.
She said their action cast an unnecessary distraction on the solemnity of the occasion. She said the elderly among them were scared of being hit by vehicles which were somehow allowed on to the restricted areas where pyres were burning.
Maharaj said the Shore of Peace, as the name suggests, is a sacred mourning ground used by people of different faiths and those who use the facility must be thoughtful and considerate. “Alcohol is not used by many faiths in their religious ceremonies, so to see people with champagne and other alcoholic beverages is totally unacceptable,” Maharaj wrote.
Ramadharsingh said he was not aware of that particular incident but noted it is an emerging trend they would have to deal with. Such behaviour is not unique to the Shore of Peace. Last March, mourners poured bottles of Moët champagne and Johnny Walker whiskey on the body of murdered auto parts dealer Sheron Sukhdeo at the Waterloo Cremation site in Carapichaima. Thick gold chains with massive medallions were also placed around his neck but quickly removed before the fire consumed his body.
In a similar scene, Sukhdeo's brother-in-law Phillip Basant who was murdered days later, also got a champagne and whiskey send-off at his funeral. “I can certainly see the distress such behaviour can cause, and rest assured, the council would take appropriate and proportionate measures to eliminate such unwanted activities,” Ramadharsingh said.
“This is the new way of young people carrying out final rites. This is an emerging trend. We now have music trucks, bikers, even cars being taken to the sites. It is a new development, so we now have to develop a whole new policy framework to deal with it. We have to be cognisant that elderly people and other mourners could become afraid and distressed by such actions.”
Ramadharsingh said the corporation has already started a programme of installing cameras throughout some of its facilities and the Shore of Peace is next on the cards to also combat reports of break-ins of parked vehicles while mourners cremate their dead. He said the cameras would be monitored by the central command of the municipal police at Siparia.