Sunday, Sep 19, 2021
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In The Shadow Of The Dakhma

Chronicle has conflict, a sense of belonging, loss, and the question of how one holds on to one’s faith given the reality of death.

In The Shadow Of The Dakhma
In The Shadow Of The Dakhma
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

If initiation into the Zoroastrian faith of children born to Parsi girls who have married outside the community is the most hotly debated issue in the minuscule Parsi community, then dakhmenashini (the consigning of the dead to the dakhma or Towers of Silence) ranks a close second. In Chronicle of a Corpse Bearer, Cyrus Mistry delves into the relatively unknown world of the khandhias and nussesalars, the workforce which mans these dakhmas. Nussesalars are corpse-bearers invested with priest-like duties and are responsible for protecting the living from contamination by the corpse. In Zoroastrian theology, all dead matter is considered unhygienic and polluting.

This novel draws inspiration from the true story of a Parsi dock worker who married a khandhia’s daughter. Mistry, sibling of the novelist Rohinton Mistry, came across this story while working on a proposal for a documentary on corpse-bearers for Channel 4. While the documentary proved to be stillborn, that story provided the germ of an idea which eventually...

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