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The Space Between Us by Thrity Umrigar
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Sep 06, 10

Read in September, 2010


Parsi or Parsee (pronounced refers to a member of the larger of the two Zoroastrian communities from the Indian subcontinent, the other being the Irani community.
According to tradition, the present-day Parsis descend from a group of Iranian Zoroastrians who immigrated to Western India during 10th century AD, due to persecution by Muslims in Iran The long presence in the region distinguishes the Parsis from the Iranis, who are more recent arrivals, and who represent the smaller of the two Indian-Zoroastrian communities.Zoroastrianism is a religion and philosophy based on the teachings of prophet Zoroaster (also known as Zarathustra, in Avestan, The Avesta is the religious book of Zoroastrians that contains a collection of sacred texts. It was founded in Persia (IranThe precise date of the founding of Zoroastrianism is uncertain. An approximate date of 1500–1200 BCE has been established through archaeological evidence and linguistic comparisons with the Hindu text. However there is no way of knowing exactly when Zoroaster lived, as he lived in what, to his people, were prehistoric times.
Zoroaster was born in either Northeast Iran or Southwest Afghanistan. He was born into a Bronze Age culture with a polytheistic religion, which included aniaml sacrifice and the ritual use of intoxicants. This religion was quite similar to the early forms of Hinduism in India.
The political power of the pre-Islamic Iranian dynasties lent Zoroastrianism immense prestige in ancient times, and some of its leading doctrines were adopted by other religious systems. It has no major theological divisions (the only significant schism is based on calendar differences), but it is not monolithic. Modern-era influences have a significant impact on individual and local beliefs, practices, values and vocabulary, sometimes complementing tradition and enriching it, but sometimes also displacing tradition entirely.
Today the parsi population in India is approximately 110,000.
A Tower of Silence is a circular, raised structure used by Zoroastrians for exposure of the dead.
The tower of silence is located in mainly big cities of India that has a big Parsi population.It is a place where a dead parsi is placed to be devoured by vultures.Zoroastrian tradition considers a dead body—in addition to cut hair and nail-parings—to be unclean, i.e. potential pollutants. Specifically, the corpse demon was believed to rush into the body and contaminate everything it came into contact with, hence the rules for disposing of the dead as "safely" as possible.
To preclude the pollution of earth or fire the bodies of the dead are placed atop a tower—a tower of silence—and so exposed to the sun and to birds of prey. Thus, "putrefaction with all its concomitant evils" "is most effectually prevented."
The towers, which are fairly uniform in their construction, have an almost flat roof, with the perimeter being slightly higher than the center. The roof is divided into three concentric rings: The bodies of men are arranged around the outer ring, women in the second circle, and children in the innermost ring. Once the bones have been bleached by the sun and wind, which can take as long as a year, they are collected in an ossuary pit at the center of the tower, where—assisted by lime—they gradually disintegrate and the remaining material—with run-off rainwater—runs through multiple coal and sand filters before being eventually washed out to sea. The ritual precinct may be entered only by a special class of pallbearers, called nasellars.



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