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Funeral Rites of Bahía Málaga

Los chigualos

Chigualos are songs of joy which take place during the funeral rites of children within the Afro-Colombian communities of Bahia Malaga.  During the ceremony the child is placed on a table adorned with a white table cloth.  His or her eyes are propped open with little sticks. 

During the night the community sings to the child accompanied by rythmns of drums, the marimba, and shakers.  In the middle of the night the parents and god-parents dance with the child in their arms as they rejoice amidst tears.  This mixture of joy with sadness is rooted in the belief among Afro-Colombians of this región that a child under the age of 6 that dies becomes an angel in heaven received in God’s kingdom.  Included in this belief is that the child will intercede before God in behalf of his/her parents to forgive them and they will in turn listen to his words.  As the sun rises the parents, together with the community, walk to the cemetary to bury the child (Sanitesteban, C.J., 2011).


  A demonstration of a chigualo
 Los alabaos
Alabaos are songs that express feelings of sadness during the funeral rites of youths and adults in the Afro-Colombian communities of Bahía Málaga.   During the night a group of women sing next to the coffin, and at midnight a respected community member leads a group prayer to aid the deceased in their transcendence into eternal life.  Before and during the prayer the community stays with the deceased, and throughout the night people play games, play cards, and hold lotteries. As the community tells stories of the deceased, women hand out cigarettes, cups of coffee, candy, and bread.  When dawn arrives, the community returns to their houses and at the predetermined time during the day, they accompany the family and deceased to the cemetary for burial (Santiesteban C. J., 2011).

A demonstration of an alabao.