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There are numerous less known and defamed places in India and Mumbai's ‘Tower of Silence’ is surely one of them. It is also known as Dakhma and noticed as Parsee Bawdi, it is a stretching graveyard of Parsee community that is situated in the posh Malabar Hill region of the city. And it covers an area of 55 acres. It is one of the most restricted areas and not everyone is allowed to go or peek inside except the dead bodies and their families. There are numerous misconceptions about methods of the Tower of Silence. In recent years, people are also discussing the haunting vibes around it and the terrible feeling the place gives. It is moreover listed in India's most haunting places, located in Mumbai. India is the country full of mythological tales and several superstitions as well. And it is very common for us to relate funeral grounds with haunting places. But there are various facts everyone should know about the Tower of Silence.

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A dakhma, also recognized as the Tower of Silence, is a circular building constructed by Zoroastrians for excarnation, that is, for dead bodies to be worn down by vultures. Zoroastrianism is the religion of the Parsi community. Zoroastrian belief regards a dead body to be ‘Nasu’ which means polluted in Avestan scriptures. Precisely, the ‘Nasu daeva’, the body-demon was presumed to surge into the body and infect everything it got into touch with, hence the ‘Vendidad’, a religious chant against the demon has laws for disposing of the dead with precautions. Moreover, fire and earth are two significant aspects for Zoroastrians and to stop the pollution of earth or fire, the bodies of the dead are positioned atop a tower and uncovered to the sun and to scavenging birds like vultures.

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The Zoroastrian orientation of the dead is first verified in the middle of the 5th century BC from the manuscripts of Herodotus, who examined the custom in Asia Minor, writing on the culture of the Persians. He depicts that, they uncover the body of male dead to dogs and birds of prey, then they cover the body in wax, and then it is buried. This ritual kept on shaping with the passing time. And the towers are a much later invention and are first reported in the early 9th century. In the Iranian Zoroastrian tradition, the towers were built atop hills or low mountains in desert locations distant from population centres. In the early twentieth century, the Iranian Zoroastrians slowly cancelled their use and began to use burials or cremation.

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The Persians originally lived in Hormuz in the Persian Gulf, but exposing themselves harassed, they migrated to India, entering in the 8th century. Perhaps the migration, in fact, have taken place as late as the 10th century. And they mixed in the Indian subcontinent just like sugar in milk. Later, the timely growth of the Indo-Persian culture dispersed the Parsi funeral towers in regions like Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bengaluru, but mostly separated from the metropolitan bustle.

The right to use the Towers of Silence is a debated topic between the Parsi community. In the late 20th century India faced a huge Indian Vulture Crisis and the vulture population dropped off and it was over 97% by 2008. The few existing birds were mostly incapable to completely eat up the bodies. Before that in 2001, Parsi communities in India were practising captive breeding of vultures and the use of solar concentrators, basically the large reflectors, for speedy corrosion of bodies. But the solar concentrators function purely in bright weather. Vultures used to dispose of a body in minutes, and no other technique has verified completely useful, some also chose to turn to the burial of the bodies. In the tower of silence, the faculties are usually managed by local Zoroastrian unions in accordance with Indian regulations. These unions have authority over that region and have the right to grant and prohibit the entries and use.

Travellers from various parts of the country visit this place, but people often forget that it is not a tourist spot or some mythical place. It is just a funeral ground of a minor community of our country and it is a relatively personal ceremony for them. Because of the not so ordinary funeral practices and confidential sites, people often start to make various horror tales about it. But for a proper appreciation and to wipe out the misconceptions related to this place and ceremonies of Parsis, one has to look out the Zoroastrian or Parsi sentiments of sanitation, purification, and cleanliness, as expressed in their Vendidad, one of the Avesta Scriptures. There must be a belief of clearness explained in these ceremonies which strikes a lesson in the mind of the survivors, that, as the Persian poet sings, "Death levels everybody, whether he dies as a king on the throne or as a poor man without a bed on the ground."

The Tower of Silence recites a natural happening of death, with peace. It reflects the beauty behind the nature of life and death, without surrounding it with negativity. Rather, a modest acceptance and peace. It is not a ritual or a place of hauntings and it is one of the oldest ceremonious locations in Mumbai and not a place to be afraid of. The Tower of Silence is merely a place for endless peace in the middle of the raged life in Mumbai.

(Source - / / Wikipedia)