Undertaker Shifts Gear

Jayaratne VIP Services (Private) Limited this week launched its upmarket service with a two-page colour advertisement announcing the “prestigious” send-off with pomp and pageantry.rn

rnThe dead would be driven in one of the worlds safest cars, a brand-new Volvo, while the bereaved can ride in a smaller Volvo S-80. rn

rnThe custom-built black Volvo hearse, which can also accommodate a few mourners, will be escorted by two horse outriders, never seen here before even at state funerals.rn

rnThe launch came amid a slowdown in business for Jayaratne as well as other undertakers, who used to make a killing on military contracts to bury thousands of government soldiers.rn

rnA ceasefire between government troops and Tamil Tiger rebels since February 23 last year has seen an end to deaths in action — taking away a lucrative source of income for funeral parlours, defence officials said.rn

rnIn a bid to make money in other areas, the Jayaratne undertakers offer a choice of caskets made of mahogany and pin