If you are thinking of any weird jobs or occupations lately, well this might give you a great answer. When there is a funeral, the family and close friends of the deceased mourn and cry for the unfortunate passing of their loved one. But did you know there is actually a profession called professional mourners? Yes, you heard that right. If the family believes in this tradition, they hire the mourners to lament, cry, and give a eulogy to the deceased who they do not even know in the first place.
Mourners a Weird Profession?
It might be weird, but this has been a long-standing tradition by many cultures and countries including China, India, Egypt, and a few Mediterranean nations. The proper term for these professional mourners is moirologists or mutes. This job was also mentioned in the Bible and other cultural books and scriptures and has been very well known to be invoked in literature as well. this has been a well-known tradition to some cultures however the idea is thrown out by the Chinese Cultural Revolution.
Why Mourners are Often Female?
In Rajasthan, the western state in India, professional mourners are often females and are popularly called as Rudaali. They attend the funeral as instructed by the family of the deceased and start their lamentation and rituals. Up to this day, professional mourning is not only practiced in India but also in China and other Asian countries as well. it is mainly because of tradition being passed on to the present family that keeps this tradition alive and burning.
Most professional mourners are women according to history. The reason is that men are not seen to be best fitting to the job as they stand as the leader of the family so they are not expected to express any emotions towards the death of the family member. Women are usually depicted as soft and emotional before and even during this time that is why they fit so much to the occasion. This profession also gives them a sense of pride as they are able to earn enough money and help with the expenses of the family.
It is also known that professional mourning during funerals is a sign that the family is wealthy. The more mourners around the casket, the higher their standard is in the society. In China, this tradition has been practiced since the year 756. In Chinese customs, professional mourning is believed to come from the usual theatrical performances done during the funeral. Actors and actresses hired by the family depict a certain part of the deceased’s life and reenact it so that the guests will know him or her better.
This kind of entertainment is not favored especially by Chinese scholars and government officials as it may seem disrespectful to the deceased. During the 1960s, professional mourning has been looked down upon Chinese leaders and has prohibited this tradition. It was only during the Reform Era when professional mourning has been accepted once again in the society and was resumed until this very day.
Mourners of the Modern Times
In modern times, professional mourners have evolved and have adapted the modern ways to keep it updated with the traditions now but still uplifting the classic feel of mourning. Mourners have considered their jobs as a full-time profession that is why they have rehearsed and prepared well to give satisfaction to the family who hired them. They even invite a band that will play the music. They usually have a routine that they follow that starts with lining outside the funeral venue.
As they come in, they will crawl while shouting the name of the deceased in agony and crying voice. It is much advised that they really cry with tears to make the performance more believable and to move the audience they have. After the entrance, the eulogy will start. The person assigned to this will mention good things about the deceased and even say the whole script while crying, shouting, and mourning so as to get more emotional attention from the guests. After this, the mourners ask the family to bow down three times in front of the casket.
In Indian tradition, a belly dancer will come in and upbeat music will pay so as to lift up the mood and make everyone more lively coming from the emotional eulogy. The professional mourner’s job is not only to set a sad mood and make the attendees cry. Their other job is also to create a festive mood where everyone jumps of happiness and laughter.
In the United Kingdom, a former company deployed professional mourners who will dress and act as if he or she is really part of the funeral and is a family member or a friend. Other attended should know notice that he or she is being paid to mourn and cry. Mourners are also hired in Jewish and Christian funerals with a common rate of USD 30 to USD 120 without tips.
In Egypt, the female members of the family usually start the mourning and crying initially and is followed by a group that the family hired. Prayers written in the form of a song or poetry is made by the professional mourners and is sang out loud during the funeral to give respect and honor the deceased. Muhammad’s teachings have strongly prohibited the sound of crying women, but the Egyptians have long diminished this from the Quran as they believe that the sound of mourning leads the deceased to their graveyards. This is a tradition still existing in Egypt as of this day.
The idea might sound weird but professional mourning is backed by culture and traditions strongly supported by families and passed on from one generation to the next. Of course, each country has a different representation and symbolism to this practice and the manner of professional mourning depends on culture as well. it might be discouraged by the government and even Gods, however, the tradition still runs as of today and is practiced to honor and respect the dead.