Kandelar dòbel

“When somebody dies normally people use four candles, one at each corner of the coffin”, Ilona told us at one of the workshops. “Those candles are bigger than these. These smaller candles are used when praying the rosary. The candles are placed on an altar together with a photo of the deceased, a crucifix, a palm branch and an image of the Holy Family. The prayer consists of four rosary mysteries.”

The Curaçaoan beliefs and traditions surrounding death are a good example of religious syncretism, in this case the blending of Roman Catholic, Congolese and Yoruba religious customs. Many events are seen as harbingers of death, such as bruises and gray and black butterflies flying into a house.

After the funeral a period of 8 days of mourning follows, during which litanies are prayed by an intercessor, usually a woman over the age of 50. She asks God to take the deceased with him and to give comfort to the bereaved. In addition, everyone can let their emotions run free. Relatives talk to each other about what the deceased said, about how he was able to prepare for death. On the ‘di ocho dia’, the 8th day after the funeral, the relatives open the windows ‘pa manda spiritu bai’, so that the spirit can go away quietly.

“Many events are seen as harbingers of death.”