If the celebration of love and life come at a hefty cost for Azeri families, dying is proving to be just as challenging - families have to endure the loss of a loved one and often end up in debt in order to pay for expensive mourning ceremonies. In Azerbaijan a funeral is a key social gathering and mourning the dead has become a large and growing industry. In the current economic situation, families end up borrowing money - to organize the mourning ceremony, to buy land for the burial, to purchase the marble stone.
“The person has died, but other problems are on the shoulder of the relatives,” an Azeri saying goes.
When Flora Aleskerova’s mother-in-law passed away in August 2015, the Baku resident took a loan of AZN 8,205 ($5,000 ) in order to host the funeral. She is still repaying back the loan.
“We took this loan in US dollars, before the second devaluation, then the value of the dollar increased, and we cannot pay it off now because our salaries remain in manat,” she complains, adding that her husband did it in order to escape criticism from family and friends.
Usually, mourning ceremonies are held in the specific facilities built in almost every district. As tradition mandates, to invite to the ceremony friends and neighbors along side the relatives, companies who are specialized in organizing funerals also rent out tents which can be set up near the local mosque or near the house of the deceased and can host larger groups of people. Funeral tents have become a profitable business and prices depend not only on the size but also on the service provided. n addition, they provide table, chairs, air conditioning, as well as a catering service with waiters and chefs.
Rafiq Bayramov, who rents funeral tents in Ganja, a city 300 km west of the capital Baku, notes that his business was affected by the devaluation. As for the wedding restaurants, tents come at different prices which have increased following the currency volatility.
In mid-2016 an “economy class” facility cost between AZN700 and AZN1,400 ($400-800), up from AZN200 and AZN1,000 ($120-600) in early 2015. The most expensive range - so called “VIP tents” - have climbed well over AZN5,000 ($3,044) from which cost 4000-5000 AZN ($2500-3000) before the devaluation, now cost over 5000 AZN ( $ 3000)
“We provide at least 8-9 air conditioners in our tents,” explains Eltun Allahverdiyev who only deals with the luxury segment targeting wealthy Azerbaijanis. Both the external and internal design, from the floor to the ceiling cover, curtains, table and chairs, is state of the art. “The personnel is uniformed, there are also special bio-toilets for women and men, and there are menus of different prices. We can also offer luxury cars for carrying the coffin."
Photo source: http://cadirxidmeti.az/
Costs for VIP tents
Rent: up to AZN3,000 ($1,826)
Meal: AZN15 - 20 ($9-12)
Daily rent for a dishwasher: AZN70-150 ($42-91)
Tea maker: AZN50-100 ($30-60)
Car to transport the coffin: AZN120-180 ($73-109)
Tombstone AZN1,300-2,500 AZN ($791-1,522)
Washing of body of deceased AZN50 ($30)
The mollah’s religious service: AZN50-150 AZN ($30-91)
Total about AZN5,000-6,000 ($3,044 - 3,653)
Very few people can afford to pay more than AZN10,000 ($6,089)