10 Facts About Zoroastrian Funerals, Where They Feed The Dead To Vultures On Towers

Zoroastrian funerals are pretty different from what's usually found in Western tradition. That's because in Zoroastrianism, the age-old Parsi religion, dead bodies don't go underground; instead, they go sunbathing on what's called a "Tower of Silence." That's weird, you might say. Why would anyone get rid of their dead like that?

The answer makes sense once you're aware that in Zoroastrianism, physical purity and spiritual purity are closely connected. Death is impure by default, as is anything that a dead body touches. In short, Zoroastrians need to dispose of their departed quickly and in a way that defiles as little of the material world as possible. The Towers of Silence work because of the exposure to the sun (but mostly because of the vultures - just like the Buddhist practice of Sky Burial.) Zoroastrians are pretty serious about this ritual, to the point that in the past they've considered it a meritorious action to dig up bodies and properly dispose of them. In locations where burial by exposure is illegal or too difficult, however, Zoroastrians turn to more traditional methods like cremation.