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Vultures circling over Mumbai's Towers of Silence

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Published on Feb 22, 2011

Here, from the Hanging Gardens of Mumbai (built over the city's main reservoir on Malabar Hill), you can see the vultures circling the Towers of Silence that are located close by in the adjacent forested area.

Orthodox followers of the ancient Zoroastrian religion believe that their bodies should not pollute the elements, so upon death they place their bodies on the platforms in the Towers of Silence to be consumed by nature (usually vultures). Though they are tucked away in a small forested area amidst some of Mumbai's most prime real estate, actually visiting these towers is totally prohibited on religious grounds --but from this adjacent location you can see from the vulture's activity that there are ceremonies happening that day. There's a tower perfectly lined up with this pathway where I was standing.

Zoroastrianism, one of the oldest Western religions, started in ancient Persia and was eventually pushed east by the rise of Islam. When they arrived and settled in Mumbai, they became known as the Parsi. The Parsi were never in any big numbers (and they're dwindling now), but they've always been some of the most successful businesspeople in India --most notably the Tata family (and even Freddie Mercury).

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