Funeral Procession Of Mewa Singh!


Melanie Hardbattle, Archivist in the Special Collections and Rare Books department, Simon Fraser UniversityLibrary, recently discovered this rare footage of the funeral procession of martyr Mewa Singh,which is in the 1915. SFU Library Special Collections, Kohaly Collection. “His body was brought to theundertakers, where it was bathed according to the Sikh religious rites and then in a hearse was carriedto the B.C.E.R. Depot, where about four or five hundred sikhs were standing to pray for the soul of thedead. Before the funeral procession started, a photograph was taken and then the procession followedthe hearse to the Fraser Mills, BC, singing hymns, notwithstanding the heavy rain” says a quote fromMitt Singh in The New Advertiser, January 14, 1915. Recently, while looking through one of their collectionsat Simon Fraser University (SFU) Library’s Special Collections & Rare Books, Hardbattle cameacross a photograph that I had never seen before. She wrote: “I was immediately struck by the starkbeauty of the image: the shine of rainy, sepia-coloured streets, nearly deserted, and the charming backgroundof long-demolished buildings and ornate lamp posts, contrasted with the sombre dark clothingof a solemn gathering of South Asian men, lined up in orderly rows, arms at their sides, behind a black,horse-drawn carriage. A small crowd of observers from outside of the South Asian community standsto the left, eyes on the group assembled in front of them. Some members of the crowd and their darkumbrellas are blurred and transparent, ghost-like figures; a few individuals are barely materialized,visible by just a glimpse of their feet or a shadowy outline, making the viewer aware of the temporalnature of the photograph and the movement of time. A few curious figures here and there peek out frombehind buildings and under awnings. The whole of the scene is reflected back in shadows by the wetstreets.”