(WARNING: This post may be disturbing in content)
Sometimes, it’s interesting to find out about other cultures and how they deal with death and burial. Sometimes, it can challenge the things we believe and accept.
The Zoroastrian practice of Sky Burial is probably one of those challenges for me.
I first read about the practice on Slate.com, and was immediately fascinated. As this is the internet, one link led to two more, and hours later, I had seen picture after picture, read descriptions and learned way more than I ever imagined about bodies being picked to shreds by vultures (and the accompanying problems that ensue when there are no vultures to do the work!)
The practice is historical, from millenia back, as well as current (practiced in sections of India, specifically Mumbai). It is carried out on very specifically designed and constructed towers, called Towers of Silence (see diagram below). The ‘burial’ pattern, as it were, is very specific–there are sections of the tower for men, for women, and for children. The tending of the tower is equally mindful, with caretakers and timeframes for curating the bodies.
Image from The Heritage Institute
Several abandoned Towers exist in Iran, and are open to visitors. A few active towers remain in India, but are also having to adapt or change, due to a decrease in vulture population, and to encroachment by urban structures and the need for air treatment due to smell.
Is sky burial something you would consider?