Tuesday, June 4, 2013

The Parsi and Vanishing Vultures

The Parsis have one of the most unusual funeral rituals of all religions.  Parsis are members of India's largest Zoroastrian community. They originally came from Iran where Zoroastrianism was founded over a thousand years ago. I wrote about them in March when the Indian photographer, Sooni Taraporevala, opened a Parsi photographic exposition.

 Their funeral rituals are unusual because they do not believe in burying or cremating their dead. They see that as polluting nature. Instead, according to this NPR story,"the Parsi corpse is exposed to the rays of the sun, and the corpse is consumed or devoured by birds of prey — vultures, kites and crows."  A problem developed last year when the population of vultures vanished. They tried solar concentrators to speed up decomoposition but the process was slow and made neighbors squeamish. Now the Indian government is setting up reserves for vultures and working hard to revive the population and restore the proper funeral rites to the Parsi.

You can listen to the NPR broadcast of the story here,  read an older BBC news story about Parsi funeral practices, and you can read this NY Times story about Mumbai's effort to revive the vulture population.


  1. we came from the ground no matter what god you believe we were ment to eat from the ground and it sounds grose but pottie in the ground and die and decay in the ground and that is our only chance for life after death and we are part of the working of the land the land needs us we are fertalizer for the land and we have robbed mother nature and our selves i wounder how angry mother nature realy is

  2. so we were ment to decay into the ground think about all of the millions of caskets that are plugging up the ground how many years do you think we can plug the ground up with this and what is so sad is what we have allowed in order for another to make money think about a car that you run out of oil what happens it catches fire whats going to happen when we have used up all of th oil of the land and wisdom tells me this is HUGE FOR THE WORKING OF THE LAND IT WILL HAPPEN JUST WHEN