The Haunting Truth behind the Tower of Silence

Tower of Silence, even the very name sounds intriguing only few would ever have heard it. The ones who would be familiar with the name or what this is all about would either be Parsis; or someone who is familiar with their customs; or maybe someone who just has an interest in forgotten rituals or spooky stories. What a “Tower of Silence” is, let me just summarize the haunting part about it first. It is a place in Mumbai that often gets listed as one of the most haunted sites in all of India. If you were to believe the stories, people passing by this site complain of a “sense of uneasiness and feel uncomfortable”.

And that is pretty much it. There are no scary ghost sightings here; or a woman in white chasing people; strange apparitions; or weird noises; no nothing at all but just a feeling. Then why is this place so notorious as haunted? Reason is simple; people fear what they do not understand. And if what they do not understand has something to do with death or dead bodies; then it has to be either cursed or haunted.

Zoroastrian tradition considers a dead body (in addition to cut hair and nail parings) to be nasu, unclean, i.e. potential pollutants. Specifically, the corpse demon (Avestan: nasu.daeva) was believed to rush into the body and contaminate everything it came into contact with, hence the Vendidad (an ecclesiastical code “given against the demons”) has 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 and so exposed to the sun and to scavenging birds. Thus, “putrefaction with all its concomitant evils, is most effectually prevented

It is circular in the structure built by the Zoroastrians or Parsis for excarnation. It is nothing but for the dead bodies to be exposed to the carrion birds, commonly vultures. People who love listening to the forgotten rituals or spooky stories might have some knowledge about this place.

Tower of Silence is a cremation ground or burial ground which Zoroastrians or Parsis follow. ‘Tower of Silence has nothing to do with the spooky or roaming of apparitions but it is all about the burial place of Parsis like other community. Generally, India is said to be a mythology filled country and also have so many superstitious beliefs. People would associate the burial ground with haunted places where Mumbai’s Tower of Silence is not exceptional. Parsis called it as Dakhma and is actually known as ‘Excarnation.’ Let’s peer into the explanation actually what happens at the top of the ‘Tower of Silence’.

According to the Parsi custom, if a person from the community dies, the body of the deceased is brought to the Tower of Silence and is laid under the open sky to be fed by the scavenger birds, specifically vultures. The circular structure of the tower is explained as the separately as the uppermost row near the wall is for the male bodies, the middle one is for female bodies and the innermost part is for children and there is a well in between which is known as ‘Bhandar’ for the bones.

This custom of Parsis’ sounds creepy, but it is their traditional way to expose the dead under the open sky and is also the final act of charity by an individual it seems to provide the birds. There are many stories behind the customs of the Parsis and other fake news had been spread in the past about the tower. And we don’t really know whether the Parsis even now following their customs of exposing the dead bodies. Due to a lack of Vultures, they may not follow the customs now. But it is not sure whether the custom still gets to be followed.

Travelers from varied parts of the country as well as from different parts of the world throng to this place just to know about the rituals and customs. Only people who like to know about the customs of the people might find it interesting and will be having a good time at this place. You can visit this place to know more about the rituals of Parsis and the story behind it. But do not try to get in there, Tower of Silence is completely Zoroastrian’s belief and custom and so we should respect their traditional things. So, Mumbai’s ‘Tower of Silence’ is one of the oldest ritual sites and is not the place to be haunted.