Cyrus Mistry : How is the funeral of the Parsi community? What is Dakhma Method or Tower of Silence?

Mumbai: Former Chairman of Tata Sons Cyrus Mistry passed away accidentally on Sunday. While coming from Ahmedabad to Mumbai, his car met with an accident and he died on the spot. With the death of Cyrus Mistry, the industry lost a great personality. Cyrus Mistry belonged to the Parsi community. But his funeral program is traditional Parsi method i.e. cremation in a crematorium without being thrown to the vultures in the ‘Dakhma’ or ‘Tower of Silence’. 

The smallest group of Parsis in the world. Samaj is the most successful in terms of business. Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest religions in the world. Parsis are of Iranian origin. Considering the whole world, the number of people of Parsi community is around one lakh. The highest population of about 60 thousand is in India. The Parsi community mostly lives in Mumbai and a small number also live in Gujarat. 

The corpse is handed over to the sky 

In Hinduism, the dead body is cremated, in Muslims it is buried. In Zoroastrian religion, water, fire and earth are considered sacred. Hence, the dead body is not cremated, nor buried, nor is the dead body left in water. Apart from this, the corpse is entrusted to the sky (Sky Burials). 

What is a Dakhma or Tower of Silence? 

In the Parsi community, the corpse is buried in a Dakhma or Tower of Silence ( Tower of Silence) is kept. Dakhma is a structure of Parsi community preferably in a secluded place away from the city. Dakhma is a tall and round structure. In the upper part of this structure there is a deep circular area. After sunrise, the corpse is purified and kept at this place. These carcasses are handed over to vultures or other carnivorous birds. It is considered the most sacred method in the Parsi community. 

Funeral practices change 

Vulture numbers have declined rapidly over the years. A statistic says that 99 percent of the world’s vultures are extinct. So the Parsi community is worried about the last rites of the dead. Therefore, the traditional Dakhma method is gradually being changed and the cremation method has also changed. 

Cemetery for Parsi community in Worli

Late industrialist JRD Tata was the first to get an independent cemetery for the Parsi community. Attempts are said to have started. Later, the Parsi community got a cemetery called Swatanya in Worli. The Parsi community is concentrated in South Mumbai and the Worli cemetery is convenient for them. But leaving the traditional method and cremation in the crematorium was initially opposed by some people in the community. But later this opposition subsided. In 2015, the cemetery in Worli was given a modern look on behalf of the Mumbai Municipality and the Parsi community.   

There are currently three options available to the Parsi community for funerals, 

1. Cremation of the body in traditional manner in Dakhma.
2. Burial of the body in the cemetery.
3. Cremation of dead body in crematorium. 

Get the more latest India news updates