BT Cemetery vaults buck tradition

The
Bodden Town cemetery has been a long standing issue of how to accommodate more
bodies into an already packed cemetery.

But
a recent solution to the problem has one retired caretaker and some residents
up in arms about the way new vaults are being placed.

Retired
caretaker Freddy Watler said to his knowledge only murderous criminals are
buried facing north to south.

“In
all of my history of burying people, I never seen this happen before at the
Bodden Town cemetery. It is east and west I have known people to be buried. All
the other vaults in the cemetery have been constructed that way; why are these
different,” said Mr. Watler.

“If
the Recreation Parks and Cemetery Unit did not know the proper procedure all
they had to do was contact someone in the community and they would have showed
them the right way.

“They
have local Caymanians like Sydney Jackson, Owen Rankine and Gerald Smith from
North Side that build vaults the right way; why were none of these people
contacted,” he said.

A
spokesperson from the Recreation parks and Cemetery Unit said the department is
only responsible for cleaning the cemetery, which is across the road from the
Bodden Town Police Station.

Mr.
Watler said he noticed that work was being carried out in the cemetery and on
quick inspection everything was coming along just fine but when he returned
some days later, workers had switched from putting in the vaults east to west
to north to south.

In
an effort to find a solution to the overcrowding problem, various governments
have considered options but each has been quickly abandoned.

One
solution was to stack vaults, to which Mr. Watler also voiced his concerns.
Then it was suggested government would buy land at the back of the cemetery for
burial. It was then suggested government would find other land in the
community, but no suitable land could be found. The idea of burial at sea and
cremating people also came up.

Traditionally
residents buried their dead in a simple wooden coffin, which was placed in a
six foot hole in the ground.

Historically,
Christian burials are east-west, with the head at the western end of the grave,
an excerpt from Wikipedia states.

This
mirrors the layout of Christian churches and for much the same reason; to view
the coming of Christ on Judgment Day. In many Christian traditions, ordained
clergy are traditionally buried in the opposite orientation and their coffins
carried likewise, so that at the General Resurrection they may rise facing and
ready to minister to their people.

TOPBTCemeterySTORY

Bodden Town Cemetery retired caretaker Freddy Watler points in the direction the six new vaults have been constructed.
Photo: Jewel Levy

1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you Jewel for bringing this to the attention of the public. I agree with Mr. Freddy Watler. We need to hold on to our Caymanian burial traditions. Sadly I’ve noticed this same thing occuring in the Brac as well.

    Whatever happend to planting "grave yard flowers" like the Jasmine and outlining the sanded grave mounds with conch shells. You wouldn’t belive how many tourist appreciate how attractive and peaceful our grave yards are! The little Watler Cemetery located at old Prospect Road is one of the most Caymanian I’ve know of with its house shaped grave markers. (Another forgotten tradition!)

    But I also appreciate the need for space. Perhaps it is time to consider other options (FOR THOSE who are interested) like cremation etc.