Dokhmenshahi in UK: A contrarian view

Farrukh Dhondy, noted writer, talks about religious funeral practises in a recent article in the DNA India.

It talks about a petition filed by a Hindu UK resident to be allowed in death to be cremated on a pyre of firewood on the banks of a river he chooses in the UK.

Farrukh wonders if he or his Parsi bretheren in the UK would be able to do the same if they so wised.

Being a Parsi Zoroastrian myself, I can see some stalwarts of my community petitioning to set up Towers of Silence from which we could feed our dead bodies to the vultures in England’s green and pleasant land.

I may even have supported such a move, except for the fact that it has come to light that 95 per cent of the Indian vulture species have been wiped out by eating the flesh of cattle contaminated with the drug Diclofenac. This drug is a widely used anti-inflammatory medicine. I was prescribed it myself for a swollen knee. It agrees with cows and Parsis and is indeed beneficial for them, but is fatal when ingested by vultures.

Now knowing the Parsi stock and race as intimately as I do, I can vouch for the fact that a large percentage of Parsis in Britain will have been prescribed and swallowed a prescription or two of Diclofenac — as is their right. My civic and ecological duty is to point out that this being the case, setting up Towers of Silence will be doing the vultures of Britain no favours.

However, if all British Parsis vow, perhaps at their initiation ceremonies, as an additional religious duty, never to touch Diclofenac and to resort to other remedies for inflamed body-parts, I may fall in line and support the old ways. But as it stands, I see it as my duty to appear in any British court where, inspired by Ghai, some Rustom Subprimewalla or Freni Immoralearningswalla has filed a petition to allow disposal-by-birdy, and to roundly denounce the process.

To the cynics I say that I am second to none in championing our traditions, but saving the planet comes first!

Read the entire article A fitting funeral for traditions?

  • Shirin J Mistry

    Much as I applaud the sentiments expressed, perhaps the writer should have first seen/studied what amounts of the now banned drug are administered to cattle and how much to humans and how long each retains traces of it in their bloodstream.

    IF saving the planet was of supreme importance than I humbly submit that disposing off dead bodies via fire or burial or throwing them into the sea may be adding more to its destruction than has been given much thought to!