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Encyclopedia > Towers of Silence
A late 19th century engraving of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in Mumbai.
A late 19th century engraving of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in Mumbai.

The Towers of Silence (also dakhma or dokhma or doongerwadi) are circular raised structures used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (776x1192, 435 KB) Tower of Silence, Mumbai; scanned from 19th century source Engraving from 1886 book True Stories of the Reign of Queen Victoria by Cornelius Brown. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (776x1192, 435 KB) Tower of Silence, Mumbai; scanned from 19th century source Engraving from 1886 book True Stories of the Reign of Queen Victoria by Cornelius Brown. ... Mumbai (Marathi: मुंबई, IPA: ), formerly known as Bombay, is the capital of the state of Maharashtra, and the most populous city of India, also it is by some measures the most populous city in the world with an estimated population of about 50 billion (as of 2006). ... Zoroastrianism is the religion and philosophy based on the teachings ascribed to the prophet Zoroaster (Zarathustra, Zartosht). ...

Contents

Introduction

Zoroastrians consider a dead body - as also cut hair and nail-parings - to be nasu, unclean. According to tradition, the purpose of exposure is to preclude the pollution of earth or fire (see Zam and Atar respectively). Corpses are therefore placed atop a tower and so exposed to the sun and to birds of prey. Bodies are arranged in three rings: men around the outside, women in the second circle, and children in the innermost ring. The ritual precinct may only be entered by a special class of pallbearers. Once the bones have been bleached by the sun and wind, which can take as long as a year, they are collected in an ossuary pit at the center of the tower and/or are eventually washed out to sea. Motto: One Zambia, One Nation Anthem: Stand and Sing of Zambia, Proud and Free Capital Lusaka Largest city Lusaka Official language(s) English Government President Republic Levy Mwanawasa Independence  - Date October 24, 1964 Area  â€¢ Total  â€¢ Water (%)   752,614 km² (38th) 1% Population  â€¢ 2004 est. ... See also Atar, Mauritania. ... A pallbearer is one of several funeral paranymphs who bears the casket of a deceased person from a religious or memorial service or viewing either directly to a cemetery or mausoleum, or to and from the hearse which does so. ... An ossuary is a chest, building, well or site made to serve as the final resting place of human skeletal remains. ...


This form of ritual exposure was very likely inherited from the Magi,[1][2] following the arrival of Zoroastrianism in Western Iran, but probably did not become common practice until the present era. In Zoroastrian doctrine, the practice is only attested in the Vendidad, a Magi[1][2] (or Magi-influenced) composition of the Parthian (141 BCE-224 CE) and Sassanid (226-651 CE) eras. Because the Vendidad is structured as a question-and-answer session between Zoroaster and Ahura Mazda,[3] it is frequently supposed that the injunctions of the Vendidad reflects Zoroaster's own philosophies. In practice however, the funerary traditions of the ancient Zoroastrians is unknown, but as has been judged from burial mounds[4] and from the tombs of the emperors such as those at Naqsh-e Rustam, it is likely that they were interred. According to legend (incorporated by Ferdowsi in the Shahnameh), Zoroaster is himself interred in a tomb at Balkh (in present-day Afghanistan). The Wise Men are given the names Gaspar, Melchior, and Balthasar in this Romanesque mosaic from the Basilica of St Apollinarius in Ravenna, Italy. ... Zoroaster; portrayed here in a popular Parsi Zoroastrian depiction. ... Ahura Mazda is the Avestan language name for an exalted divinity of ancient proto-Indo-Iranian religion that was subsequently declared by Zarathustra (Zoroaster) to be the one uncreated creator of all (God). ... Næqš-e Rostæm, near Shiraz A rock relief at Naqsh-e Rostam, depicting the triumph of Shapur I over three Roman Emperors Valerian, Gordian III and Philip the Arab. ... Ferdowsi Tousi (فردوسی طوسی in Persian) (more commonly transliterated Firdausi, Ferdosi or Ferdusi) (935–1020) is considered to be one of the greatest Persian poets to have ever lived. ... Shahnameh Scenes from the Shahnameh carved into reliefs at Tus, where Ferdowsi is buried. ... Today Balkh (Persian: بلخ) is a small town in the Province of Balkh, Afghanistan, about 20 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital, Mazari Sharif, and some 74 km (46 miles) south of the Amu Darya, the Oxus River of antiquity, of which a tributary formerly flowed past Balkh. ...


In Greater Iran

In the Iranian Zoroastrian tradition, the towers were built atop hills or low mountains in desert locations distant from population centers. In the early twentieth century, the Iranian Zoroastrians gradually discontinued their use and began to favor burial or cremation. Exposure of the dead was banned by the Iranian government in 1970. The crematorium at Haycombe Cemetery, Bath, England. ...


On the Indian subcontinent

Following the rapid expansion of the Indian cities, the squat buildings are today in or near population centers, but separated from the metropolitan bustle by forest gardens. In Parsi Zoroastrian tradition, exposure of the dead is additionally considered to be an individual's final act of charity, providing the birds with what would otherwise be destroyed. This article is about the Parsi community. ...


In the past several decades, the population of birds of prey on the Indian subcontinent has greatly declined, in equal parts due to a) increasing pollution, b) growth of the cities such that the natural habitat of the birds was destroyed, and c) diclofenac poisoning of the birds following the introduction of that drug for livestock in the 1990s[5] (diclofenac for cattle was banned by the Indian government in 2006). The few surviving birds are often unable to fully consume the bodies.[6] Parsi communities in India are currently evaluating captive breeding of vultures and the use of "solar concentrators" (which are essentially large mirrors) to accelerate decomposition.[7] Diclofenac (marketed as Voltaren®, Voltarol®, Diclon®, Dicloflex® Difen and Cataflam®) is a non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drug (NSAID) taken to reduce inflammation and an analgesic reducing pain in conditions such as in arthritis or acute injury. ... 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Captive breeding is the process of breeding endangered animals by capturing them from their natural environment, breeding them in restricted conditions in zoos and other conservation facilities, and releasing them back to the wild when the population stabilizes and the threat to the animal in the wild is lessened or...


The right to use the Towers of Silence is a much debated issue among the Parsi community (see Parsi for details). The facilities are usually managed by the anjumans, the predominantly conservative (usually having five priests on a nine-member board) local Zoroastrian associations. In accordance with Indian statutes, these associations have the domestic authority over trust properties and have the right to grant or restrict entry and use, with the result that the anjumans frequently prohibit the use by the offspring of a "mixed marriage", that is where one parent is a Parsi and the other is not. This article is about the Parsi community. ...


See also

Sky burial is a ritual practice common in Tibet that involves placing the body of the deceased in a high ground (mountain) and expose it ritually, especially to birds of prey. ...

Bibliography

*   Boyce, Mary (1979). Zoroastrians: Their Religious Beliefs and Practices. London: Routledge. ISBN 0-415-23903-6.
  1. ^ a b Zaehner, Richard Charles (1956). The Teachings of the Magi:A Compendium of Zoroastrian Beliefs. London/New York: George Allen & Unwin/MacMillan.
  2. ^ a b Zaehner, Richard Charles (1961). The Dawn and Twilight of Zoroastrianism. New York: Putnam.
    Portions of the book are available online.
  3. ^ Darmesteter, James (trans.). Zend-Avesta, Vol. 1 of 3. In Müller, Friedrich Max (ed.) (1880). SBE. Oxford: OUP.
  4. ^ Falk, Harry (1989). "Soma I and II". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies (BSOAS) 52 (1).
  5. ^ Adam, David. "Cattle drug blamed as India's vultures near extinction", Guardian Unlimited, 31 January, 2006.
  6. ^ Swan, Gerry et al. (2006). "Removing the threat of diclofenac to critically endangered Asian vultures". PLoS Biology 4 (3): e66.
  7. ^ Srivastava, Sanjeev. "Parsis turn to solar power", BBC News South Asia, 18 July, 2001.

YOUR MOM! Professor Nora Elizabeth Mary Boyce (2 August 1920 - 4 April 2006) was the worlds leading doyenne of Zoroastrian studies. ... James Darmesteter (March 28, 1849 - October 10, 1894), French author and antiquarian, was born of Jewish parents at Chateau Salins, in Alsace. ... James Darmesteter (March 28, 1849 - October 10, 1894), French author and antiquarian, was born of Jewish parents at Chateau Salins, in Alsace. ... Max Müller Friedrich Max Müller (December 6, 1823 – October 28, 1900), more commonly known as Max Müller, was a German philologist and Orientalist, one of the founders of Indian studies, who virtually created the discipline of comparative religion. ... Max Müller Friedrich Max Müller (December 6, 1823 – October 28, 1900), more commonly known as Max Müller, was a German philologist and Orientalist, one of the founders of Indian studies, who virtually created the discipline of comparative religion. ... The Sacred Books of the East is a monumental, 50-volume set of English translations of Asian religious writings, edited by Max Müller and published by the Oxford University Press between 1879 and 1910. ...


Further reading


  Results from FactBites:
 
Reference.com/Encyclopedia/Towers of Silence (1071 words)
Towers of Silence are circular raised structures used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead.
The term "Tower of Silence" is a neologism attributed to one Robert Murphy, who in 1832 was a translator of the British colonial government in India.
The towers, which are fairly uniform in their construction, have an almost flat roof, with the perimeter being slightly higher than the center.
Towers of Silence - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (685 words)
A late 19th century engraving of a Zoroastrian Tower of Silence in Mumbai.
The Towers of Silence (also dakhma or dokhma or doongerwadi) are circular raised structures used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead.
The right to use the Towers of Silence is a much debated issue among the Parsi community (see Parsi for details).
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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