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Vultures to Return to Mumbai, to Eat the Dead

The Mumbai Parsi community is hoping to return vultures to their traditional and religious role of eating the dead by building aviaries near the Towers of Silence where the Zoroastrian dead are laid out to be stripped clean by vultures. For the past fifteen years, there have been barely a dozen vultures in Mumbai, and members of the community have increasingly turned to cremation (especially during the rainy season), which the religion considers unclean. The community hopes to have vultures return to eating the dead by February 2014. [more inside]
posted by Eyebrows McGee on Nov 30, 2012 - 38 comments

 

Strange funeral customs from around the world

Funerary rites differ widely across cultural time and space, and customs that seem normal to their practitioners can seem bizarre and macabre to outsiders. Certain Zoroastrian sects—such as the Parsis of India—famously place their dead atop dokhmas, or "towers of silence", to be devoured by vultures. In recent years, the decimation of India's vulture population due to diclofenac poisoning (previously), and the construction of modern high-rise buildings which provide an unintended view of the process, make the future of this custom uncertain. (If you're feeling morbid, you can get a vulture's-eye view from this video.) The Tibetans sometimes practice a similar custom known as "sky burial" (warning: graphic photos). [more inside]
posted by greenie2600 on Dec 3, 2008 - 32 comments

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