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body parts
My Funeral..
In The Event Of My Death I Wish To Be...

Gyan Fernando

Recently there has been a rather serious correspondence in the Srilankan Daily News
on the subject of Srilankan funeral practices and in particular the pomp and ceremony surrounding such events in the old Rep. The latest round was a letter from Clifford Ratwatte which is reproduced below, verbatim and complete with the inevitable "Ceylonisms".
Unnecessary expenditure at funerals
I read in a daily paper a letter to the Editor where the writer mentions about the unnecessary fuss and ceremony made at funerals.

He mentions only a few things but there are many more. Some light dashing crackers or cheena patas others hire women to wail and cry and some others throw coins mixed with "pori" on the coffin and it falls on the road, Pandals along the way, banners across the road, decorate both sides of the road with coconut or arecanut leaves just to name a few.
At the cemetery "soka prakasas" are read by friends of the dead person more to gain a favour from the survivours.
The Body is displayed at various places like the Urban Council premises etc. Thousands are spent on expensive coffins. Lorry loads of wreaths follow the hearse up to the cemetery. The money spent on wreaths could have been spent on charity. There are so many such places that need help. River sand or sea sand is spread along the main road while the corpse is taken.
Some funeral pyres have fire works on the rim. Some build statues on street corners.
I disagree with all the fuss made at funerals and have instructed my family that none of this should be done at my funeral.
I have further told them that if they do things forbidden by me I will haunt them.

Well done Clifford! The MadPage certainly endorses your views. In fact we have given considerable thought to our own funeral arrangements over the last so many years (what with so many colleagues clutching their chests and falling backwards!)

The MadPage is of course no stranger to death, autopsies, embalming, funerals and cremations etc and we would like to offer you our expertise. In fact with a famous and influential name like Ratwatte you could set up a funeral advisory service for Srilankans and probably get a grant out of the government.

It is dangerous business of course. The funeral undertakers are not going to like you very much. They might have their own funeral plans for you but the name Ratwatte will no doubt help.

Funerals of course are an expensive business here in the UK. The undertakers run a cartel and it is rather difficult to organise a cut-price-summer-special type of funeral.

Chuck out your dead!

During the so called Organ Retention Scandal here in Britain a jolly correspondence ensued in the electronic Brit. Med. J (BMJ). A totally disillusioned pathologist by the name of Derek Roskell wrote in to say that in the event of his death he wished to be cremated and the ashes scattered over Tony Blair the British Prime Minister. The MadPage's response to this was blunter, and predictably cruder!

We wrote " In the event of my death I wish to be autopsied and my internal organs thrown with great force at the Health Secretary!..."
The correspondence was picked up by a national daily,The Independent,
and we had our two-column-six-inches of glory.

" Duck! Mr Milburn. You have been warned!" advised The Independent.


The Health Secretary is or was a prat by the name of Alan Milburn, who since the aforementioned correspondence, has maintained a rather low profile, has probably had nightmares and is no doubt scanning the obituary columns every morning with some trepidation whilst stuffing his face with the bacon & e.
It is a rather worrying prospect for Milburn.
One minute you are walking along Whitehall or wherever minor politicians walk about minding your own business and the next minute, without much warning you recieve a couple of Tesco carrier bagfuls of the MadPage entrails squarely in the face.....

In our general dislike of officialdom and other minor irritations of life we have slightly drifted away from the main point of this article (as usual). To get back to the main business in hand (viz cheap funerals) we of course have several plans in the event of our own death.
Plan A is as outlined above. The main practical difficulty with Plan A for Mrs F (my widow, and it is assumed that Mrs F will be doing the necessary as we ourselves are unlikely to be in a position to do so), would be in locating Milburn.

Several prominent politicians in this country including the rather formidable Thatcher have been at the receiving end of missiles, notably eggs and cream cakes. Even the great Bill Windows, admittedly not a politician as such, has stopped a cream cake or two with his face. If located in time Milburn, who is not a very important person, should be an easy target.
A word of warning though: Do not try this in Srilanka.
Srilanka is a different matter Clifford, and I wouldn't encourage you to throw your internal organs at any of the local politicians.

Plan B

Even the MadPage is sane enough to acknowledge the practical difficulties of Plan A.
Plan B therefore involves placing the mortal remains of the MadPage in a cheap, plastic, "body bag" of the kind used by the police and at major disasters. These are easy to obtain in Britain and no doubt easier in Sri Lanka.
Place remains in bag. Attach identifying label ( Eg " MadPage, Born...Died...RIP" etc). Persuade local farmer (in Devon) or a Hi Ace van driver (in Srilanka) to transport the same to crematorium or grave.
Cost: One bodybag, one vehicle hire, one grave or cremation.
Practical and bureaucratic difficulties unfortunately arise here in GB. Undertakers and Crematoria have an "understanding" (as it is called) between themselves. Unless you present the body in a coffin and transport same in a hearse some crematorium officials refuse to accept delivery or can be a little bit difficult.
Although we are rather keen on Plan B and have already obtained a body bag, there is Plan D.

Plan D is a variation on B and simply involves making your own coffin.
First measure yourself or rather have someone measure you. Make sure you are lying down with your feet plantar flexed (Ask your doctor, no time to explain). Take measurement from big toe to top of cranium (i.e.head). Don't forget to measure width (shoulders or hips) and depth (beer belly). Calculate size of planks required.
Here in GB the cheapest "timber" would be chipboard from B&Q the DIY suppliers. Dont forget the screws (buy cheap iron ones instead of brass ones). One screwdriver (57 pence) and a No 7 drillbit. One coat of varnish (optional).
If feeling sentimental pick a few red Poppies from a grass verge. There is something sad about Poppies. (In Srilanka substitute Hendirikka flowers or GandaPana flowers for Poppies)
Transport body as before but remember to enclose bod in polythene (or in a bod bag) prior to placing in DIY coffin as leakage can be embarrassing!
You don't want stray dogs to follow your coffin do you?


Since we went to all this trouble to do all this research Mrs F calmly informs us that she has been on a "Funeral Awareness Programme" (or "How to Dispose of Late Granny in Four Easy Lessons") and has a nice plastic laminated certificate to that effect. Apparently a local undertaker, Mitchell Funeral Services of King William Street, Exeter, has agreed to do a coffin (a "laminated, cardboard box") for £ 150! That is cheap! (It is rather worrying though to note that Mrs F has been studying how to dispose of the MadPage.)
So much so for Plan D.

Clever readers may have spotted that we forgot to outline Plan C (Did you? If not go back and read from the top again!)
Plan C is probably the cheapest and easiest.

This is Plan C: Leave the bod to the State! Don't claim the bod.

In GB you will probably end up in a crematorium straightaway. You will of course get a decent cremation. Not much fun though. There is not much scope for unclaimed bods here in the UK. In India your bod will be skeletonised, nicely bleached, articulated and sold to a UK medical student. The going rate for a complete skeleton is £450 at the time of writing.

In Srilanka its a different matter and the chances are that you will end up in the Colombo Medical School. In the Anatomy Block, which is next door to the Public Morgue on Francis Road, Punchi Borella.
This is fun! First a chap called Marden or his successor (Marden was a Arakku soak and probably long gone now!) would first inject you with several litres of 10% Formaline through an old fashioned, gravity fed system. This would be followed by injection of your major blood vessels with a red dye. The bod will then be steeped in a tank of Formalin (with added Glycerine, to retain your schoolgirl complexion!) 'till the begining of the new term.

You will then be presented to the new "batch" of medical students.

There shall be crying and gnashing of teeth on the part of some medical students. And there shall be laughter. Loads of laughter. As far as you and your family are concerned there shall be no more sorrow nor financial difficulties, for the former things have passed away!
And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain; for the former things are passed away.
Revelation, Chap XXI, v 4.

©King James & St John, Bible Enterprises.
body parts
©Copyright Gyan Fernando 2001 First written on the 25 th of August 2001
Chandrika and I | Erik Solheim & I | My Part in the Census | Census Again! | Not Cricket! | I Crossed The Line | Two men and the Bear | The Gamarala and the Temple | Gamarala and the Puhul | Gamarala who went to heaven | Incense and Candlewax | Fasting & Feasting | My Father & The Devil

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