In Sicily, the duration of mourning varied according to the kind of relationship with the dead person, but usually the following criteria were observed: if the dead person was an uncle, a cousin, or someone not a close relative, the woman dressed in black for three months. If a child had been lost, the woman dressed in black for five years. If a sibling passed away, his or her sister dressed in black for three years. If the dead person was the husband, the widow dressed in black the rest of her life. I never saw my grandmother dressed in anything but black. She lost two children and her husband. As for men, the duration of mourning was shorter than that of women. They usually didn’t dress in black suits for a long time, but confined themselves to wearing a black tie, an armband, a narrow band around their jacket collar, or sometimes they wore a black button on it.
“Before leaving Pune, I went to the Burning Ghat again. There was a pyre. This time women were also present at the funeral. They stayed at a certain distance from the pyre except the wife of the dead man, who stood closer. She broke her bangle with a stone. There was also red powder scattered on the ground. ‘Why did she break her bangle?’ I asked a man next to me. ‘From now on, she won’t wear either bangles or colored saris. Moreover, she won’t put the sindoor on her forehead. It is the spot of red powder on the forehead of Indian married women,’ he answered. ‘What color should her sari be?’ ‘It should be white.’
“At that moment, I recalled my grandmother who had worn black clothes since her husband’s death. In India, it was the same. The color was different, white in India and black in Sicily, but the essence of the love toward their husbands didn’t differ.”
This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books: – A Hidden Sicilian History – The Vibrations of Words -Travels of the Mind http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo