There are many traditions that can be found throughout the tri-island state of Grenada, Carriacou and Petite Martinique. These traditions have been passed on down from our ancestors, and remain alive today, practiced by communities that have managed to keep their traditions alive. One such tradition is that of the Tombstone Feast.
The Tombstone feast is a tradition which is very popular in Carriacou and Petite Martinique, and in the northern and eastern part of Grenada. The tombstone feast is a formal ritual for the deceased and is the last part of a series of rituals associated with burial of the dead. The burial of the dead and the honouring of the dead is a West African tradition in which the dead is given special recognition.
At the heart of the Tombstone feast is the installation of the tombstone. This is one of final observance of the dead. This follows two other rituals, namely, the Wake and the Funeral. The Wake usually occurs within three days of the death, while the funeral usually occurs within two to four weeks of the death. It can be longer if relatives need to travel from overseas and arrive on island for the funeral and subsequent burial. The last ritual is the 40th day church service for the dead.
During the Tombstone Feast, there is a procession and Saraka or "Saraca". First is the procession in which there is walking towards the graveside. The coffin carrying the dead is carried on two poles, and by four or six men.
At the graveside, there is food sacrifice or "Saraka" in which food is prepared and presented to ancestral spirits at the graveside. The Parents plate is offered to the ancestors. This is done first. After which the remaining food is consumed by those present at the Tombstone feast.
It is also common to see Big drum dancing done during the Tombstone feast especially in Carriacou. The Big drum dance is a traditional dance which involves the drums, and women dancing with wide open skirts to the sound of the drums. It is popular and well-practiced in Carriacou.
Here is a video of the Tombstone feast:
Source: Explore Carriacou and Petite Martinique
Information Source: The Stone Feast and Big Drum of Carriacou by Lorna McDaniel.
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