If you are for whatever reason afraid of dying, perhaps you won’t find a safer place than eastern Serbia. For nobody really dies there. Vlachs, a small ethnic group with a deeply rooted cult of death, makes sure that the life as you know it goes on even if you somehow stopped breathing. Surely, there is a magic involved, but the real spell is the ability to turn what would elsewhere be a tragedy into a celebration of life that transgresses the borders between this and the other world. Well, until the deceased get to know their way around well enough never to wander back. 

 

For the Vlachs never underestimate the sacred forces that influence their lives. They believe that the existence of the living is tightly interwoven with the life of the dead whose departure is uncertain. The Vlach traditional culture is therefore rich in mystic rituals such as invocation of the dead, bestowal to deceased all that he used in worldly life because he can’t set on a safe journey to the other world without it, invocation of the Sun, the Moon and the stars to put their strengths together and help souls to continue their journey in peace. The dead are welcome to return, attend feasts and parties, as long as their moods and intentions are friendly and controlled.

 

But even if you have nothing against death as such, being among the Vlachs is still an unforgettable experience. Have a safe journey!

 

*descriptions of rituals in collaboration with ethnologist Paun Es Durlic

Darija Jelincic