Mumbai: First Cremation Breaks Tradition In 350-Year History Of Bombay Parsi Punchayet

Mumbai: First Cremation Breaks Tradition In 350-Year History Of Bombay Parsi Punchayet

Minoo Shroff, an economist and philanthropist, who served in the trust, one of the biggest landlords in Mumbai, died on Sunday morning. His funeral was held in the afternoon at the Worli municipal crematorium.

Manoj RamakrishnanUpdated: Monday, April 15, 2024, 10:43 PM IST
article-image
Mumbai: First Cremation Breaks Tradition In 350-Year History Of Bombay Parsi Punchayet |

Mumbai: For the first time in the recorded history of the 350-year-old Bombay Parsi Punchayet (BPP), the central trust of Parsi-Zoroastrians, the body of a former chairman was cremated and not given a traditional funeral in the Tower of Silence.

Minoo Shroff, an economist and philanthropist, who served in the trust, one of the biggest landlords in Mumbai, died on Sunday morning. His funeral was held in the afternoon at the Worli municipal crematorium. The four-day funeral prayers have been scheduled at the prayer hall attached to the cemetery.

The prayer hall, which allows an alternative to Parsi-Zoroastrians who do not want to be interred in Dakhmas, or Tower of Silence, was the result of a campaign by a group of Parsis who felt that their traditional funeral system, called Dokhmenashini, where bodies are left in stone enclosures to be disposed of by the sun and carrion birds, was not working optimally.

One reason for decline in the efficacy of the system was the near-extinction of India’s vultures. When some Parsis chose cremations, their families were not allowed to use the Bunglis (prayer halls) at the Tower of Silence for the four-day funeral prayers.

The Prayer Hall, which opened in 2015, now accounts for 15-20% of all funerals in Mumbai’s Parsi-Zoroastrian community. Before the Prayer Hall was set up, it is estimated that 7-8% of Parsi funerals were cremations. The number of cremations at Worli has grown from 33 in its first year to 90 in 2019 and 66 in 2020.

Shroff’s friend, Dinshaw Tamboly, member of the Prayer Hall Trust at Worli crematorium, said that cremations were held at other places even before the Prayer Hall was established.

“But there were no facilities for the prayers that follow the funeral. The community’s high priests were not in favour of cremation and refused to allow prayers at the prayer halls at the Tower of Silence for those who were cremated. We had no choice but to set up a prayer hall,” said Tamboly, who was a fellow trustee in the BPP when Shroff headed the body.

“The BPP was founded in the 1600s and this could be the first time a member of the Board of Trustees has been cremated,” added Tamboly.

The question whether Parsi-Zoroastrians should abandon their traditional funeral systems has been a matter of debate in the community. Jehangir Patel, editor of the community magazine Parsiana, said that Shroff’s cremation was a significant development.

“It is too early to see if anybody rakes up the issue. I expect some criticism. I am sure there will be some comments,” said Patel. "Just over 10% of all funerals are done in non-traditional ways. So there is still reluctance to go for cremations."

RECENT STORIES

Thane: 33-Yr-Old Man Allegedly Cheated Of ₹1.75 Lakh In Cyber Fraud; 1 Person Booked

Thane: 33-Yr-Old Man Allegedly Cheated Of ₹1.75 Lakh In Cyber Fraud; 1 Person Booked

Mumbai 2024 Monsoon Tracker: Maximum City To Witness Arrival Of Rains On This Date; Check Details

Mumbai 2024 Monsoon Tracker: Maximum City To Witness Arrival Of Rains On This Date; Check Details

Maharashtra Heatwave: Akola Hottest City In State At Over 45°C; District Collector Imposes Section...

Maharashtra Heatwave: Akola Hottest City In State At Over 45°C; District Collector Imposes Section...

Dombivali Blast: Death Toll Climbs To 10 In Boiler Explosion Mishap; Rescue Operations Underway

Dombivali Blast: Death Toll Climbs To 10 In Boiler Explosion Mishap; Rescue Operations Underway

Mumbai Weather Update: IMD Predicts Cloudy Skies Today; Light Rains To Hit City & MMR Areas This...

Mumbai Weather Update: IMD Predicts Cloudy Skies Today; Light Rains To Hit City & MMR Areas This...