I think still everyone remembers the case with the  girl who on December 5  committed a suicide falling down from the 7 th floor of the university. So, she was my course mate. But now I wouldn’t like to discuss  her matter, it’s a sad story and perhaps I’ll talk about it some other time, in the nearest future, so that you’ll know the real story from a person who has studied with her for 4 years, and not from the nasty rumors. Anyway,  yesterday we visited her  mom. Of course now she is depressed, if considered in addition that she was her only child, she doesn’t have husband and some two or three relatives support her. And now her only aim is constructing her grave yard. She told us that the whole money that she gathered and would be spent on her daughter she is going now to waste on making her tomb the most beautiful in the cemetery.

I did some rude calculations.  When a person dies first thing to do, after taking the corpse to the morgue,  is ordering a coffin. The average price of coffins begins from 100$ to thousands of dollars, depending on what class person is the deceased and what coffin it deserves. Then comes buying some new clothes and shoes, ordering the picture. Let’s take the average amount to be 150$.More... 

Then the late, already in the coffin, is brought into the house and the so called ponikhida (wake) process begins.  The relatives, friends, neighbors, people that you know and don’t know  come to present their condolences. Weeps, sobs and rumors are heard in every corner. But then,  on the  funeral day, which is usually the following day of the wake, after some traditional customs, the coffin is  taken to the graveyard and is left into the earth. And the next step, which is one of  the most awful, stupid and hectic customs, is laying the table on which some 15 minutes ago the coffin was placed. Even If not considering it another nonsense ceremony called “hogehangsti hats” ( bread for the deceased’s spirit peace), at which they spend another amount of money to feed a group of  people who wait not as much for the funeral to finish as for the opportunity to eat, ( is it because they really starve?), what a revolting attitude is it?

Just imagine that scene: the  late is still in the house, but the housewives, who are supposed to be in grief, have to think of  more important details, for example, watch the dishes not to overburn or overboil, or cut the bread or vegetables, or fill the plates with salads and such staff to make everything ready and as soon as the crowd goes, to manage to lay the table.’s disgusting .. Moreover, corps usually have some microbes and the place should be freshened up after it’s taken away. I wonder how the food doesn’t stick in their throats. 

And this food-gorging scene is repeated for several times: on the following day of funeral, it’s known in Armenia as “Egnahogh”, on the 7 th day, known as “yot”, and on the 40 th day, known as “qarasunq”.

So, did you manage to add these expenses?

Now, we approached to the next step: construction or decoration (call it as you want) of the grave. The grave areas in Armenia are very expensive, although the state prices are lower, but who cares, every owner quotes his price. The avarage is 200$. So, my coursemate’s mom bought the area for her daughter’s grave for 600$, paying an additional price for not letting another grave to be constructed on this one, because they are situated too close to each other. Though I agree the area is big for one grave, but some more graves are supposed to be added within some years. Then she paid 1200$ for surrounding it with cement and more 15.000$ for the tomb stone and carving some statue or cross stone.
In this case let me say this is a luxury, it is much too much. The goner doesn’t feel it and perhaps he wouldn’t like it. Then who is it done for? For the others to mention how you respected or loved her? Again, for the public opinion? Or “gna meri ari sirem” (die to be loved)? And the result is that today there are  nearly no free areas in the graveyards and they develop far away the cemetery borders. Also, there are no people who groom the graves and as a matter of fact they are dark, terrible, scary, deprived of  grass and trees, unlike many other countries, where the cemetery can be considered to be a playing garden for children.

After we accepted the cremation, I wonder where are they going to make their stunning graveyards? Near their houses? Hmmm…

Yet, this is the tradition and I doubt whether it  will vanish some day. I think you also managed to do all the calculations and we can come to the conclusion that if you are poor or not rich enough DON”T  YOU DARE  DIE…


3 Responses to “DON’T YOU DARE DIE…”

  1. Global Voices Online » Blog Archive » Armenia: The Cost of Dying Says:

    […] Zarchka writes about the cost of dying in Armenia. […]

  2. Arsen V. Safaryan Says:

    Zar. As always your’re right. But only stupid poors can let themeselves to pay over $15 000 to go to heaven. It costs even more than U.S. Visa (a joke).
    But really it’s a great problem in Armenia and it not only refers to crenation and all related expenses but to everything. That is when someone is able and is doing something others do it to feel themeselves up to date or to show that they are.
    Your crazy admirer Arsen

  3. Oneworld Multimedia :: Notes from the Armenian Blogosphere :: March :: 2006 Says:

    […] Zarchka over at Life Around Me continues to post her observations as a 20 year old woman in Armenia, and this week talks about the high cost of funerals in Armenia. She starts her post by recounting the recent suicide of one of her coursemates at the University where she studies in Yerevan. […]

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