This weekend I was invited to both a wedding and wake. At first I felt like I would be somewhat intruding, as I only recently know the families. I have met the family of the now-married couple several times (I had never met either of the people getting married) and I didn’t know the person who passed, just his grandson I’d met twice and the deceased was my host dad’s brother’s father-in-law. But I soon learned that both of these are basically community events in Guyana; it is not limited to family and close friends, but also includes neighbors, community members, sometimes people who pass and talk on the street,etc. As such it could have been rude for me to decline.
The Wedding was for a Presbyterian family. (This is worth noting as wedding and wake style and tradition varies largely based on whether the family are Christian, Hindu, or Muslim – which almost everyone in Guyana associates with one of these faiths.) They had the wedding on the new couple’s front porch. (The featured image is of the wedding.) The couple walked out together. They matched in pink outfits. They sat in front of their guests, standing periodically throughout the service. A local minister performed the ceremony which resembled an informal church service. An a capella hymn was sung, several scripture readings, a short lesson, and several prayers consisted most of the service. The couple recited their vows and placed each other’s wedding bands on their left ring finger. It was concluded by the couple signing the marriage certificate and the minister opening the floor for family members to offer words of advice to the new married couple.
The Wake was a combination of Christian and Hindu practices,as the family was comprised of both. Hindu wakes here typically last 13 days. Christian wakes last 5-9 days. The home of the deceased becomes the “Wake House” for this time period and each evening people visit and stay for several hours visiting with the family and friends. The family, at least in this instance, prepared dinner and drinks (coffee or juice) for their guests each night. People played card games and dominoes. The family (including extended) discussed funeral and cremation options. I was told that Hindus more commonly are cremated (Christians and Muslims are usually buried) and when someone is cremated the family typically will put the ashes in the river.
The funeral was Sunday, which I did not attend, as it was a smaller gathering of closer family and friends (although I was still invited). They opted for Sunday so the grandchildren wouldn’t have to miss school on Monday. Typically for Christian wakes they end the day after the funeral and Hindu wakes are not determined by the time of the funeral – it lasts 13 days regardless of when the funeral is held during that time.