TraditionsLearn more about how we celebrate a loved one's life.
The Dead Yaad
When someone passes away in Jamaica, the entire community supports the family. One does not have to know the person who dies to lend support, support comes from friends of friends and friends of family, even non affiliated persons from the community or neighboring communities give their support. What is this support I keep talking about? The night of the day or the fist night after the passing away, is the start of the dead yard. The dead yard is not only a place but an event that last for the period commencing on the day the person dies to the night before the funeral. The first night of the dead yard at the home of the deceased, a gathering of supporters to show their sorrow and comfort to family. A game of dominoes and a few flasks or rum might mark the commencement of the night ritual. Usually the game of dominoes and drinking of rum escalates into playing of music and eventually the the main event, Kumina. Drumming, primarily an African tradition that slaves used to communicate with each other from plantation to plantation. Playing of drums dated back to the early 1300 in Africa. In Jamaica the slaves who could not see each other to talk used the drums to send messages and news. The Plantation owners thought the were having their own kind of fun. When slavery became less conformed drumming was allowed for African celebrations. Post slavery drumming for weddings and childbirth gave way to the announcement of the passing of a loved one. Thus the birth of Kumina the music of the dead. Over ninety percent of all deceased in the island of Jamaica have a Kumina band during the period between the passing and burial to play the drums. Playing the drums is not a simple who wants to play or just hitting to find rhythm. Nearly all Kumina drummers are of Maroon decent. There has to be something in the bood, a calling from the ancestors. Kumina playing is a gift from the spirits, not just anyone can touch the drums. During the dead yard, the ground where the drummers play has to be prepared spiritually, by sprinkling of white rum, or the blood of a white fowl (chicken) or the blood of a goat Duppy Bands The Duppy Band is the alternative to the Kumina. There are some Jamaicans who are scared of the Kumina or they are Christians who want to keep away from the Paganism that Kumina portray so they the Duppy Band instead . The Duppy Band consists of a guitarist, drummer, keyboard, maracas, tamberines and the lead singer. The sound is quite like the Kumina except for the other instruments in the band, like the guitar and keyboard. Duppy in Jamaica means 'ghost' or 'dead'.Duppy Band means Dead people Band or a Band that plays music for the dead.