COVID-19 has forced Surat Parsis to cremate the bodies


April 19, 2021

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Around 40 members of community who succumbed to the infection in Surat denied the traditional funeral of consigning the dead to dakhmas and cremated as per Covid guidelines


Monaz Bhesania, a 30-year-old Parsi woman succumbed to the coronavirus infection on Monday and was cremated in Surat as per Covid-19 guidelines. She lived with her mother at Sargam apartment in Adajan, Surat.

Article by Gaurav Khara | Ahmedabad Mirror

As many as 40 Parsis have been cremated in Surat in the past one month alone. For the orthodox Parsis, being denied the traditional funeral of the dead being consigned to the Towers of Silence and exposed to scavenger birds has posed a serious question about disposing of their dead.

With Surat being the city with the second highest Covid-19 cases in the state, over a thousand cases are being reported daily. The second wave has not left the Parsi population untouched. Out of 3,000 Parsis living in Surat city, 40 have succumbed to the coronavirus in the second wave.

To ensure that the bodies do not infect others, they are disposed of by the leaders of the Parsi community as per the Covid-19 guidelines by cremation. However, as per Parsi belief, those who are not cremated as per their rituals do not attain Moksha. Considering the extraordinary situation that society, Parsis do not have a choice and for the good of everyone cremate the Covid victims.

In normal circumstances, after the death of any member of the Parsi community, their bodies are taken to Dungarwadi near Bombay Market in Surat. The body is placed inside the well after bathing and left for vultures to feed on it. The bones remain inside the well. The funeral rites performed by the Parsi community are considered among the most eco-friendly among societies in the world.

According to Surat Parsi Panchayat president Jamshed Dotiwala, “The last rites of those who die of Covid-19 are being performed as per the guidelines laid down by the government. The body is not handed over to the family. The body is sent for cremation.”