From a Sister's Desk

This column is not meant for mere reading, but it is meant to knock at the doors of your conscience, if the article has knocked, don't just sit and ponder but the time demands action right now!

The Truth of ‘The Tower of Silence’!!

I could not help the horror that engulfed me when I read about ‘The Tower of Silence’ episode which attracted then attention of the media the world over. The message was clear—a need was felt by the members of Parsi community to disperse off their dead in a dignified way—the dignity that a human being deserved ever after his death. It created ripples obviously an age old religious practice was under fire!

Parsis claim to be inheritors of worlds oldest religion namely Zoroastrianism. They disperse off their dead on a tower named ‘Tower of Silence’ and leave them there to be taken care of by vultures. Parsis have been following this age old religious ritual over the centuries. Mumbai is a home to India’s economically robust and sophisticated Parsi community. These people too have been following the tradition in Mumbai’s posh Malabhar Hills. The times have changed but the tradition has not. Mumbai has ballooned out with sky scrapers, with industries, with an enormous immigrant population which has as a consequence chocked away the vultures. Yes, the bad news is that the vultures have become extinct. So what will happen to the dead of Parsi community? No one thought over it till a bold initiative by a Parsi lady dropped all the skeletons in the cupboard and sent shock waves both within and outside the community. This lady had lost her mother and was keen to know her fate the ‘tower of silence’. With a video camera she captured the horrifying site of half decomposed bodies some bloated, some shrunken some decayed, some decaying—lying there on top of another without a respect or dignity. The vultures were not there and half decaying bodies were lying helplessly in the ‘tower of silence’ for years. The surrounding posh area residents were nostalgic with the smell coming from the ‘last destiny’ of Parsi community. They were helpless too.

The revelations by the Parsi lady have called for a debate within and outside the community i.e., offering the body to vultures is against human dignity, so what is the alternative, an incinerator, offering body to flames or a burial? The age old order is tumbling under its own odour!

We Muslims don't claim to be superior but the fact s that every religious ritual of ours guarantees a human being the respect he/she deserves. Out method of disposing off the dead in a graceful white cloth and lower him down in the earth so deep that no human ear can see his fate. No expenses incurred, no resources involved only the earth is enriched. Our yardstick is same, rich, poor, ruled and the ruler all share the same fate. A look at the graveyard makes you remember the purpose of your life but never horrifies you to loathe your existence! A graveyard fills the air with fragrance of daffodil and not the putrid aura!

If logic is used as a guide and human dignity as a standard Parsi’s should not only follow our method of disposing off the dead but entire Islam in letter and spirit as their living and dead deserve the best. They owe dignity to their living and dead. Their age old traditions have failed them!