Friday, 12 September 2008

Towers of Silence....

http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?hl=en&q=malabar+hill+mumbai&ie=UTF8&ll=18.959769,72.805924&spn=0.002055,0.003712&t=h&z=18

This link - if you can get to it mind you, takes you directly to a Google map image that hovers you above the Malabar Hill Dakhma Complex - The Zoroastrian Towers of Silence.

Actually, I thought that photographing them even from a height was frowned upon, so I was glad that the zoom button refused to take me in any further...yes, I admit to have tried it!

I have long had a fascination for the Zoroastrians - whoever thinks that Mazda is simply some kind of Japanese car, needs to look lively.

Mazda is the omniscient Wise Lord, the Creator. Mazda or Ahura Mazda among other names, is the exulted God of Zoroastrianism.

Zarathrustra was his priest/prophet who got the religion named after himself having built it out of some earlier established religious frameworks (Clark 2001: 3).


When shall I know, O Mazda, whether through truth you have control over anything, the fear of which frightens me. Let the pronouncement of good thoughts be told me truly. May the benefactor know of what kind his rewards will be. (Y.48:9)


That's from the Gathas which are the sacred texts provided for us by Zarathrustra - they are personal songs to God, a bit like the more widely known psalms and what is more interesting (to me at least), is that this religion - which we have, I hope, established is not - NOT - about worshiping a type of automotive technology, is considered to be the world's earliest 'received and prophetic' religion. Possibly 1400BCE and pre computer; blackberry or mud tablet script.

This is a living religion - although it seems not to be one that one can convert to.

However from what I can gather there has been enough spiritual permeability to allow scholarly types to detect historical links between the other 'people of the book'. but sadly Zoroastrians were dominated historically by the ones who thought theirs was best...

This all got me thinking - we have had the first Hindu Pyre in the UK, when can we build a Tower of Silence? Would we - if we had such a thing, as juddin - non-Zoroastrians get to go there, if the rituals were deemed suitable. Or would we have to steal the idea (like we have with lots of other non-western things in our oh so chequered past) and create our own local versions?

Where, (disregarding the straight-jacket of local planning departments for the benefit of imaginative thinking) would we put our new-fangled 'towers'? It seems a great pity to me that the famed Calder Hall piles have been demolished recently...They could have been modified perfectly!

Something on The Isle of Dog's might fit in with the ritual side of things....
(a joke in poor taste for those who know - shame on me).

But continuing on the wildlife theme, it's clearly the birds that are the main problem. Although if we are being creative, surely we could come-up with another form of vulture.....

Answers posted here please.

And I apologise in advance - for everything - with huge reverence - to Ahura Mazda engineer of all things and His followers in the Parsi community who I promise - I respect hugely.

Ref:
Clark, P. (2001)Zoroastrianism: An Introduction to an Ancient Faith. Brighton/Portland: Sussex Academic Press

1 comment:

Fi said...

FASCINATING!
I have learned a lot today and I am not even up yet....but it did stimulate me to read further as I had questions and was wondering about the Isle of Dogs....
Also intrigues me how much England has altered in my nearly forty years absence.

As a vet, I am puzzled why the vets are using Voltaren, aka diclofenac, in the cattle in India...but the ecological impact on the vultures and the possible risk of pandemics because of it concerns me!

Found this on Wikipaedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diclofenac

Ecological problems

Use of diclofenac in animals has been reported to have led to a sharp decline in the vulture population in the Indian subcontinent, 95% decline in 2004, 99.9% decline as of 2008.[10] The mechanism is probably renal failure, a known side-effect of diclofenac. Vultures eat the carcasses of domesticated animals that have been administered veterinary diclofenac, and are poisoned by the accumulated chemical. At a meeting of the National Wildlife Board in March 2005, the Government of India announced that it intended to phase out the veterinary use of diclofenac.[11] Meloxicam is a safer (though more expensive) candidate to replace use of diclofenac.[12] "The loss of tens of millions of vultures over the last decade has had major ecological consequences across the Indian subcontinent that pose a potential threat to human health. In many places, populations of feral dogs (Canis familiaris [sic]) have increased sharply from the disappearance of Gyps vultures as the main scavenger of wild and domestic ungulate carcasses. Associated with the rise in dog numbers is an increased risk of rabies"[12] and casualties of almost 50,000 people.[13]

The Government of India cites one of those major consequences as a vulture species extinction.[11] A major shift in transfer of corpse pathogens from vultures to feral dogs and rats can lead to a disease pandemic causing millions of deaths in a crowded country like India.

The loss of vultures has had a social impact on the Indian Zoroastrian Parsi community, who traditionally use vultures to dispose of human corpses in "sky burials" (Towers of Silence), and are now having to seek alternative disposal methods, [12].

Diclofenac was shown also to cause harm to freshwater fish species as rainbow trout [Schwaiger et al. (2004). Aquat. Toxicol. 68(2): 141-150;Triebskorn et al. (2004). Aquat. Toxicol. 68(2): 151-166; Schwaiger & Triebskorn (2005). UBA-Berichte 29/05: 217-226. Triebskorn et al. (2007). Analyt. Bioanalyt. Chem. 387(4): 1405-1416.)

I also read:
http://bldgblog.blogspot.com/2007/03/towers-of-silence.html


and even more interesting...from
http://www.towerofsilence.org/..The Universal Ethician Church in association with the Parsi (Zoroastrian) Community is in the process of planning for the construction of a TOWER OF SILENCE on the shores of Lake Livingston in E. Texas.


http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904059,00.html

Between 1966 and 1970 in Bombay, 5,195 Parsis died; only 3,828 were born. The religion does not accept converts. The faith is inherited, and Parsis marry late, producing few children. Moreover, only a man may pass on the faith to his children if he marries an outsider. A woman cannot. To wed within the faith, Parsis often marry first cousins. Generations of inbreeding have caused a high incidence of such hereditary illnesses as diabetes, epilepsy and certain heart diseases.


and a great background article here from India's Hindu online newspaper:
http://www.hinduonnet.com/mag/2002/07/21/stories/2002072100130200.htm

Thanks - I can see why you are doing further studies :)