White is the absence of color, and is the only color widows are allowed to wear. It is the acceptable color at funerals and ceremonies that mark death in the family. It reflects the basic quality of the color itself, when a widow wears white, she disconnects herself from the pleasures and luxuries of active and normal participation in society and life around her. On the day on which the death has occurred, the family do not cook, hence usually close family and friends will provide food for the mourning family. White clothing (the colour of purity) is the colour of mourning, and many will wear white during the mourning period.
Death is not considered as the end in life, it is a special moment in the trip without end where the soul goes across innumerable bodies of animals and persons.
In India, there is often an elaborate ceremony during the funeral of a widow’s husband. Earlier it was compulsory to wear all white after the husband was dead, and even a tradition known as “sati” was sometimes practiced, where the newly-widowed woman would throw her body onto her husband’s burning funeral pyre. However, in modern-day culture the norms for clothing has gradually given way to colored clothing, and sati practice has been banned in India for more than a century.
Sati practice has been mentioned in Western countries literature; it was mentioned by Jules Verne in his tale “Around the World in Eigthy days”, where Romy princess was rescued by Willy Fog to be burned in her husband pyre… certainly a tale with nice end.
Eva REÑÉ BAÑERES, January 11th 2011