The Zoroastrians of the Parsi community in Mumbai (formerly Bombay), India, are preparing to bring back the vultures to feed on their dead. Their ancient custom has been to reject both burial and cremation and rather to lay their dead outside to be consumed by the buzzards.
The vultures disappeared 15 years ago by a combination of factors and after six years of negotiations the government has agreed to fund the restoration of the birds at a cost of $5 million. In the past, when India had as many as 400 million vultures, the bodies were consumed quickly, but over the past decades they have been disappearing due to the prolific use of the diclofenac painkiller which causes kidney failure in the birds and other causes. The Parsis own a 54-acre sanctuary in the heart of Mumbai where they operate three Towers of Silence for the disposal of the dead, with a separate section each for males, females, and children. The disposal of the body is a spiritual and religious issue, though typically it is no longer thought to be so in secularized Western society.
The Bible enjoins the burial of the dead and provides the example of burial from Abraham to Jesus, because the Bible teaches bodily resurrection. The body is “planted” in the likeness of a seed with the faith that Christ will raise that individual from the dead (1 Corinthians 15). Hindus cremate the body because they don’t believe in resurrection; they believe in reincarnation and the transmigration of the soul from one body to another. See the report “Cremation: What Does God Think” at the Way of Life web site.
(Friday Church News Notes, January 4, 2013, www.wayoflife.org firstname.lastname@example.org, 866-295-4143)