Our sacred scriptures supersede any human speculation, knowledge or understanding of our religion. Since ages we, Mazdayasni Zarathustris, are following Dokhmenashi as an accepted medium of returning back our shell "body" to this earth in the natural way as prescribed by our Prophet Vakhsureh Vakhsuran Asho Zarathustra Spitama in Vendidad. There is no reference or alternative method prescribed by our Prophet, neither it is found anywhere in our scriptures. Those who recommend and practice Cremation and Burial as an alternmative method with an excuse or understanding of not having any access to Dokhma (or Dakhma) (outside India and Pakistan) or physical inconveniences hinder their practice, are doing unimaginable amount of harm to their body and Soul in its progression. This article provides evidences from Vendidad supporting our sacred practice and rituals of Dokhmenashini nourishing the minds of those who conveniently follow Cremation and Burial of Zarathustris living outside India and Pakistan.
There are references in Vendidad about effects & products of Druj-I-Nasu, effects of Atash on ones Urvaan, body, mind and life, and relation of earthly elements with our life and its implications. These references sufficiently exhaust every doubt, knowledge and intelligence to establish that a dead matter can never to be "disposed off" by using "fire" (Cremation) or earth (Burial). Paigambar Saheb Himself dictated that Dokhmenashini is the only method of "finalizing" the dead body. That means, there is no substitute to this method, which includes any man-made device (electric cremation) or, no matter how practical or convenient method is in practice; Dokhmenashini is prescribed for Zarathustris, period. People who abuse Dokhmenashini by incorporating revised method or suggestion to "finalize" a Zarathustri body, and those who argue that Parsees never had Dokhma in Iran prior to their arrival in India, does mockery of our sacred scriptures, and without a doubt, make fool of themselves. This article will provide enough nourishment to their inquiries to abide by HIS WISDOM and reasoning behind this ancient practice.
Vendidad on Dokhmenashini
The Vendidad (Ven) Pargarad (Prg) 5 & 8 describes how, when and where a deceased person's body should be "exposed" to nature by practicing Dokhmenashini. These Paragards are principal, authentic sources of establishing Dokhmenashini as a Zarathustri practice with no exception. In Ven. Prg. 8:2, it is said that "we, Zarathustris should always wish for Dokhmenashini" - "Dakhma Aeshyaan". It explains that Dokhma is a place where Khurshed Nagirasni (direct rays of sun-light) is abundant, a place which has Talisms of PaviKat, is the only place where a deceased body should be "exposed" to nature. If body is "disposed" by any other method, Druj-I-Nasu will reduce the speed of this earth advancing towards Farshogard i.e. to say, Druj-I-Nasu will inhibit Urvaan's progression. In the same para it is stated that, if we cannot find a Dokhma in the vicinity, (such as Zarathustris in countries other than India & Pakistan), we can build a temporary Pavi Kat and place the body inside the boundaries to stop spreading Druj-I-Nasu in the surrounding atmosphere. Ven.Prg.10:14 explains this kind of temporary "Kat" for such a purpose. It is mentioned that, the dead body must be "exposed" to Dokhma as soon as we find the nearest one. The place where the body was rested must be kept excluded by having a Divo or fire in the presence of a person reciting Avesta Manthras continuously for three days. If the body is not removed as soon as possible, that place has to be demolished and no one is recommended to stay on it as that area is considered full of Druj-I-Nasu. Anyone who stays on it will be captivated by Druj with its power to control the individual thought process, restricting his/ her Farshogard.
In paragraph 5 to10, it states that if due to some unforeseen circumstances the dead body cannot be removed from the house (storm, rain, etc), one must build a PaviKat on a dry, clean place of the house or area, which 30 feet away from birds, animals and anyone carrying Yazashne Alaats, Atash, water, and 3 feet away from Asho Nar. Then it should be dug up to the waist level (if the land is wet) and add Ash with sand, covering that with a brick sand or stone- sand and make the internal as dry as possible. (Prg.5;10:12) As Ash and dry sand is part of the earthly minerals and elements, it can restore the deterioration of body from Druj-I-Nasu. After 2 or three months, when the storm gets over or the land is clear to take the body to Dokhma, the body that is left passive from the attacks of Druj-I-Nasu should be transferred to its right place. However, one has to follow certain steps to clear that land where the body was kept for so long. First of all, that land under PaviKat should be permanently separated from the residence. "Ahe nmanahe Up-thweresaan Upa- thweresaan Upa-thweresyaan; Upa-thweresaan". The reason behind this separation is, when Nasesaalars takes that body to "Upa-skumb" (open Talismic Dokhma) and, the body is placed under the gigantic Talism PaviKat, there remains a connection (Paiwand) between the temporary PaviKat where the body was placed for a certain number of time (2 to 3 months) in house and the Dokhma Talism PaviKat. It is important to release that land from its Paivand with the Talism of Dokhma, because, in the absence of such a practice, any disturbances in that house or the surrounding land will weaken the Talisms of Dokhma. Through proper Dokhmenashini, all four divine and material components (Atash, Water, Air, Earth) of a deceased body (placed under Talism PaviKat) reaches Dahm Yazad through "Khurshed-nagirasni".
According to Ven.Prg.8;5.10, the temporary place where the deceased body is placed should be isolated 30 feet away from the sacred objects like Yazashne Alaats, fire, water, and place of PaviKat. It also prohibits having that place within three feet of the 'Asho Nar'. Why 30 feet for all those Alaats, and why only 3 feet for Asho Nar? A question that has much deeper meaning related to the 'Anasars', 'Aipi', and level of Urvaan's progression or class of Urvaan that comes in contact with Druj-e-Nasu. Just for your curiosity, an Asho Nar possesses divine composition of Humata-Hukhta-Huvarshta that makes his 'Aipi' as well as one of the nature clear from Druj. Besides, their well-developed Anasars (bodily elements) that is divinely shielded against the attacks of Druj-I-Nasu, is another advantage for them over common human to avoid Druj in the environment. That is why we have to undergo Nahan ritual after attending "Paidas"; a topic will appear in the following explanation.
A lesson, we learn from the above reference is that a dead body can be 'disposed' only within a sanctified Talism PaviKat area (Dokhma) open for Khurshed-Nagirasni (sun-rays) to enable Dahm Yazad to take charge of our bodily 'Anasars' to help our Urvaan continue its journey towards salvation. If a Zarathustri dies in some foreign land, his/ her family should make every effort to make arrangements for its Dokhmenashini in India or Pakistan, wherever there is a consecrated place available and maintained by the authorities. Our Vendidad takes precedence over any human understanding and authority of our present day Dasturs who suggest Cremation and Burial as the optional method of 'disposing' the deceased human body in the absence of Dokhma facility outside India. Dokhmenashi is the ONLY method suggested by our Prophet Asho Zarathustra Spitama. We are here to FOLLOW and not to suggest or speculate any feasible method of Dokhmenashini. No arguments.
Nine Constituents of human body:
In order to understand the reason why Dokhmenashini is prescribed in our religion, one need to understand the nature and composition of human body. All those rituals, ceremonies, and a designated place "Dokhma" for the deceased body has a deep connection with the components of our earthly body and divinity of Soul, as one without another is impossible and the "journey" will not be complete without religious farewell to both. I will not go into details of these constituents but, allow the reader to understand their functioning and, how it is influencing our life and soul in its journey towards Farshogard. These nine constituents area as follows:
All of these above constituents are given in Yasna 55,1, which can be divided into three categories. The first three: Tanu, Gaetha, Azdebish belong to the tangible physical world; the next three: Kehrpa, Ushtaan, Tevishi are subtle pertaining to the ultra-physical worlds; the last three Urvaan, Baodangh, Fravashi are permanent (unlike above six) i.e. divine, immortal world. Lets concentrate on the first three constituents. Tanu, Gaetha, and Azdebish - all three constituents are though related to the physical world, they are connected with His divine world through Urvaan, Baodangh, Fravashi, its divine, immortal parts. There is an imaginary magnetic field (Aipi) of nine parts around our body which is connected to the 16 divine energies located in different parts of our body that is exposed to energies 'for' and 'against' our Urvaan's progression. This works through its influence on Mind, which is available for either nourishment or destruction. The main part Azdebish is developed and inherited from the mother's (four) elements during birth process. Although these elements are mixed with the father's 'Boon' (seed), Dahm Yazad helps that individual to extract its roots from the pass birth to continue Urvaan's journey towards salvation. These 'elements' are of two types: one belongs to Azdebish (Azda) which is divine, and another belongs to (earthly) elements of the parent's. On death of an individual, Urvaan remains in Kehrpa and takes the divine elements to Dahm Yazad. However, at the time of death, only when the earthly elements are returned to Dahm Yazad, it will merge with the elements of Kehrpa.
In short, Death in this world is incomplete because, even though Urvaan leaves the body and all of the above nine constituents gets disturbed, there remains a Paiwand between them. That is why we say in Avesta "Idha iristanam urvaano yazamaide ya ashaonam fravashiyo" - 'We attune ourselves with the Urvaan which is now with the companionship of Fravashi'. In other words, we attune ourselves with the Urvaan, which is connected to Baodangh and Fravashi linked with Dadar's Paiwand. The real death occurs after the judgment day on Chinvat, when Urvaan, Baodangh and Fravashi gets separated from the connection of the earthly body and becomes one Fravashi - a divine product. As mentioned earlier, Tanu, our physical body is composed of four elements: Atash, Water, Air, Earth - the products of Kehrpa, Ushtan, Tevishi. An element of 'life' is within Azdebish or Azda which is connected to the Mind, and thus we have a vital composition of Tanu, Gaetha, and Azda. . In Avesta, His presence found in Azda is referred as "Vasi-e- Panchas-Dvaraam", which is directly attuned with the 16 energies (circles) within our body. Since the day Gana-Mino has shown its presence in these 16 energies (ref. Pre-cosmogenesis), the soul is required to follow laws, rules and regulations of HIS Daena (Mazdayasni Zarathustri Daena) to keep these energies clear from the lustful attractions created by Gana-Mino from the functioning of our Mind, Body, and Soul to attain HIS divine plan - Farshogard.
A lesson to learn from the above explanation is, our body carries many divine compositions of life which area simultaneously working for our Urvaan's progression. After the end of ones life on earth, the 'shell' that carried our Urvaan has so many divine products within that deserves a spiritually accepted process of its disposal, instead of being treated as Nasu (Druj), which some people think, can be disposed as per their will or convenience. Most justify their corrupted action by designating body as just an earthly substance that has to be disposed off by whatever convenient way possible. As seen in this article, connection of body to the deceased soul is the vital link towards its next journey with the help of Dahm Yazad.
There are many facets of spiritual composition that requires Mithra-Manthra- Yasna-Ashoi-Tarikat elements that has to be observed for the Urvaan's progression. By visiting Iranshah Atash-Behram eight times as per Pundole philosophy, one cannot escape a step (birth) in progression, neither their philosophy has any backing of our Manthric connection and Karsh that one is supposed to build before and after entering our sacred Iranshah. Remember, there is nothing like forgiveness of deeds in our religion. We all have to progress as per HIS judgment. No matter how convincing ones speculation or theory sounds, it cannot overweigh the spiritual process designed by HIS wisdom. I will elaborate on the Pundole false propaganda on the above subject in a separate article.
Forces of Druj-e-Nasu on Death:
At the time of death Urvaan is attacked from three sides. First, when Urvaan gets separated from the Body, Druj-e-Nasu or Ahiriman advances with the forces of "Tir-e-Gohar" (Darkness) for attacking the ingredients of the dead body. As we have seen earlier, the four Anasars (components) of body are directly related to the advancement cycle of Urvaan and its life beyond. Thus, regardless of Urvaan's release from the body, it is affected by "Tir-e-Gohar" on its 'shell' left behind. Second, the Urvaan repents by witnessing its "Kerdar" (a pictorial form of its deeds) and, how far it has contributed towards the true meaning, mission, and purpose of life on earth. (My dear Zarathustris, it will be too late then, so be awaken now and practice His Daena: Mithra-Manthra-Yasna-Ashoi-Tarikat Formula). Third, Urvaan has tendency to keep getting attracted by the emotional feelings and sobbing repentance of its family, relatives and friends due to its death. A Vendidad of Sarosh is prescribed to release Urvaan from all of the above connections to the earth so that it can reach Chinvat on Caharum (forth day) under the leadership of Sarosh Yazad. It is recommended to request three (Sarosh) Yazashne and three (Sarosh) Vendidad before Caharum to help the departed soul reach its destination.
Druj-e-Nasu not only attacks Urvaan and its 'shell' (body), but also influence people who comes in contact with it. As seen earlier, upon death Druj-e-Nasu is at its peak, and it spreads in the surrounding atmosphere polluting and 'disintegrating' the 'elements' that helps our Urvaan towards Farshogard. It influences all living creature around the place where the dead body is kept. A contact or presence near the dead body brings in many unfavorable changes in the surrounding atmosphere and living creations. There is a meaning in having a 'Paiwand' (connection) between two individuals during "Paidas", while following the Nasesalars carrying the deceased body towards Dokhma. A Paiwand during that time helps us retain our Atashe-e-Vohufriyan (a divine magnetic energy that helps in bodily functioning) and, elements of Ushtaan (air combined with HIS presence) and becomes a strong shield against the attacks of Druj-e-Nasu which gets pushed into the functioning of Armaiti in earth. By having a Paiwand during 'Paidas' not only helps the living family members to receive "Dahm-Afriti" (Wishes, blessings) from the dear departed Soul, but it also helps other creations of Ahura-Mazda to remain Druji-free. It is very unfortunate that today there are many Zarathustri who fail to or neglect following this Practice of having a Paiwand during "Paidas".
As per Vendidad, the deceased body must be carried on feet against transporting by automobile or by any other means. The reason behind this prescription is that, it helps the Urvaan of the living being to force Druj-e- Nasu into earth (with the help of Atash-e-Vohufriyan within) rather than spreading it in the surrounding atmosphere. Here, one must realize how effective it is to have a 'Paiwand' during 'Paidas' and, how important it is to undergo Nahn ceremony before coming in contact with the outsider and normal daily life. Those who have attended "Paidas" and witnessed the dead body by Sezda (respect), Suchkar, must follow a specific cleansing procedure (or Nahn, if possible) before engaging in daily duties. One must do Kusti before entering the residential place and, without touching anything, remove clothing, splash Taro on it before washing, and immediately take bath. It is a wrong practice to do "Suchkar" in 'Paidas' and then, in evening attend Sarosh- nu-Patru without purifying oneself by taking shower in between. In the absence of 'Suchkar', one must do at least Sarosh-ni-Kusti and change clothes before engaging in daily activities.
Hope this explanation will help the community to be aware of Druj-e-Nasu and its influence in life.
Cremation & Burial:
Disregard any suggestion or practice given by Zarathustris or foreign scholars on Burial and Cremation. These are not meant for Zarathustri Soul. After reading this article, I am sure the reader is convinced that Burial or cremation are anti-Zarathustri practices and those who follow these practices are doing great harm not only to their own and the deceased soul, but also cause serious disorder in nature and its creations. Just for the sake of argument, if we accept burial as an alternative mode of disposal, as per Vendidad, the deceased body should be finally rest in Dakhma and Dakhma alone. No exception. Our scriptures has elaborated explanations on Fire and Land, along with their spiritual ingredients and divine entities attached with its functioning in nature and its creation, which I wish to elaborate in the separate article.
Prayers during three days before Gehsarnu: (Refer my separate article on Funeral Procedure):
In the presence of Fire or Divo, recite Sarosh Baj, Geh, Khorshed/ Meher Nyaish (during daytime); at night, recite Sarosh Yast Vadi, Atash Nyaish, Ardebehist Yast, Moti Haptan Yast, (Recite a para starting "Yatuji Zarathustri .. Nashatanam Aaojungah" - seven times), Khordad Yast, Haom Yast, Vanant Yast. Also recommended Ahunavad Gatha with Khshnoom of Sarosh. There are certain prayers like Sarosh-ne-Baj and Kusti prayer after Sezda, Suchkar, which requires details that are omitted from this article.
No Donation of Body Parts:
Vendidad Pargarad 8 para 3 states that, whatever parts of the body removed during the life-span of the deceased person must be destroyed as it is consider Riman (Druj), and anyone or wherever it is stored or assumed is considered Nasu (dead matter) which generated nothing but Druj. This reference is for those Behdins and Ervads who openly propagate donation of human parts after death. There are few Zoroastrian Associations who support their efforts and spread this anti-religious message among the community. Wake up, Zarathustris, wake up. Respect, obey and follow HIS divine wisdom and stop encouraging mockery of our religious beliefs. My dear Zarathustris, as you have seen earlier, though our body is made of four elements of the nature, it carries a vital, divine force within during the Urvaan's life -span which has power to bridge connection with Urvaan and its progression. During ones life- span all our body parts are 'carefully watched' to 'work' according to ones Urvaan's status, stage of its progression, and its "Baghobakht" (destiny) designed under His jurisdiction. We have no power to separate or donate these bodily parts to anyone as they were MADE for an Urvaan for some specific purpose. Our human feelings & emotions should not let HIS wisdom and judgment in making it look worthless, neither, we should get carried away by compromising our religious practice of disposing the mortal remains by any other mode but Dokhmenashini.
Dokhmenashini Fund: (A SUGGESTION)
In my article on Funeral Procedure, I have strongly suggested to the local community of each Association or unorganized group residing outside India & Pakistan to establish a Dokhmenashini Fund for those 'respectful', 'enlightened' Zarathustris who wish to get religious farewell through Dokhmenashini. I recommend the interested Zarathustris to set up a Fund to donate a certain amount of money for their religious farewell depending on the estimate cost of funeral services in India and abroad.. We have some traditional Zarathustris in the western countries who are not sure of their spouses' compliance or decision to adhere to the procedure of Dokhmenashini on their death. We have also some individuals who have no family or relative to look after, and thus feel insecure of their final services on their demise. For such individuals, my suggestion of having money aside as donation to a local Zarathustri Association, would be the most ideal one. Of course, the Association should also pass a resolution in its favor, and invite volunteers to help in procedures necessary to transport the deceased body to India or Pakistan for Dokhmenashini. The transportation laws on embalming the deceased body are very strict however, we can provide approval from the local government for not having embalming done on the religious grounds, like they do in the Jews community. It would be very difficult to have Dakhma facility anywhere outside India and Pakistan. Neither it is feasible to carry a corpse by land to the above countries. In the absence of any other alternative, we have only one option to transport it by Air as it needs to be 'disposed' at Dakhma at the earliest. My dear Zarathustris, it is possible and we can do it. Keep aside all negative thoughts and think how you can make it happen. As per Vendidad, carrying a corpse or helping a deceased person to attain Dokhmenashini is a good deed that will be rewarded. Remember, we all have to go the same way; today it is someone else, tomorrow it could be you or me. Think about it.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
The following funeral procedure for shipping the mortal remains to India is prepared for the Zoroastrian community in the United States. The given procedure and ceremonies are applicable only to those who belong to the Zoroastrian fold (both parents are Zoroastrians and practicing the Zoroastrian religion); who has not renounced his religion by marrying outside the Zoroastrian fold.
I. IMMEDIATELY AFTER DEATH:
A. The Mobeds (Priests) of our Association.
1. ___________________ Tel. #
2. ___________________Tel. #
B. The attending physician (usually the family doctor) and notify him of the death.
C. The Director of the Funeral Home.
II. CONTACT YOUR ASSOCIATION:
The following persons should be informed concerning the time and place of funeral or any other concerns related to the event occured.
1. The President, Trustee
2. Funeral Service Representative
3. Authorized representative in your home town.
[This person may be a Priest or trustees of the Agiary who is authorized by the managing committee of your Association to ensure that the required ceremonies for the deceased person is done on time.
4. Any volunteers from your association.
[I recommend every association to publish a note in their monthly newsletter inviting more people to volunteer for such an unprecedented event.]
III. TRADITIONAL ZOROASTRIAN CUSTOMS AND REQUIREMENTS:
A. The dying person should be made to recite as many Ashem Vohu as possible or any member of the family should recite Patet Pashemani or Ashem Vohu, next to dying or deceased person.
B. After death, an oil lamp, water and flowers are usually kept in the room of the deceased continuously for 10 days.
C. Once the body of the deceased is released by the hospital or doctor (under natural death) it will be send for embalming. Mortuary will receive the body on the next day. As per our traditional custom the family and friends of the deceased should go to the Funeral Home to complete the following procedure in order to enable the Priests to perform prayers.
1. Two members of the family should do padyab-kusti and Srosh Baj to complete the following procedure.
2. Take two white towels, a white sheet, Sudreh and Kusti, a white scarf (mathubanu) or cap, some old Sudrehs which can be torn into strips, and clean used wearing apparel to dress the body. A white pyjama for men or a petticoat and blouse for women. It is not a Zoroastrian custom to dress the body in a suit or dress.
3. Sponge the body (with `taro' if available).
4. With strips of cloth torn from old Sudrehs, tie one knot at the neck, fold the hands and tie a knot at the wrists. Tie one knot at the waist. Join the knees and tie a knot at the knees and lastly join the two big toes and tie a knot. Every time you tie a knot, recite the Yatha Ahu Vairyo.
5. Dress the body with the Sudreh and Kusti whilst saying the Kusti prayers.
6. Dress the body with loose fitting clothing and cover it with a white sheet (Do not cover the face).
7. Cover the head with a mathubanu, white cloth or cap.
8. The body is then placed on the stone slabs (if available) .
9. GEHSARNA Ceremony by Priests.
10. In the middle of the GEHSARNA Ceremony (Ahunavaiti Gatha XXXI,4) the corpse-bearers (Family preferable) will lift the corpse from the stone slabs and place it in the casket in which it will be finally shipped to India.
11. The Zoroastrian funeral can only take place during daylight hours. So, in the extra-ordinary circumstances the mobed or a relative will recite prayers at home. If the prayers are not known or cannot be recited for any reason, then continue reciting Ashem Vohu.
12. It is a Zoroastrian custom for a family member, friend or a mobed to recite as many Avesta Kalams as possible preferably next to the body. The following prayers should not be recited - the Atash Nyaish and the Tundorosti. Generally, if it is after sunset, the Khorsed, Meher and Ava Nyaish are not recited.
13. After Sachkar no one should touch the body, and maintain a distance when paying your respects. Placing of wreaths and flowers is not a Zoroastrian tradition. There should be nothing except a Divo and an Atash near the body before the Geh-Serna. The Atash is removed during the Geh-Sarna ceremony and only Divo is left. It is also a Zoroastrian tradition to have a simple funeral service.
IV. CEREMONIES FOR THE DEPARTED SOUL:
Following the funeral, a number of ceremonies are traditionally performed here and are done wherever facilities are available to the family in India or Pakistan. According to our scriptures and religious traditions, performance of the following ceremonies is the requirements in case of death of a Zoroastrian. (In reference to these ceremonies please read the enclosed notes)
1. Gehsarna ceremony in presence of the deceased body.
2. Afringan of Sarosh will be performed in Aevishuthrum Geh for three days after the day a person is pronounced dead..
3. Oothamna ceremony will be performed in the Uziran Gah of the third day.
4. Oothamna ceremony will be performed in Ushen Gah of the third day (just before dawn of the fourth day)
5. Afringan of Dahm will be performed at the dawn of the fourth day.
6. Afringan of Ardafravash, Baj and Stum ceremonies will be performed on the fourth day.
7. Afringan, Baj and Stum on the tenth day of his/ her death.
8. Afringan, Farokhshi, Baj and Stum ceremonies will be performed after one month on the day of his/ her death.
9. Afringan of Siroja, Siroja ni Baj, Farokhshi, Stum ceremonies on the one day before the death anniversary of the deceased.
10. Afringan, Baj and Stum ceremonies on the death anniversary of the deceased.
11. Afringan, Farokhshi, Baj and Stum ceremonies during Muktad days.
a) Three Yazasne's of Sarosh Yazd during first four days of the death. [This can be done only if, the Yozdathregars' (Priests who perform high liturgical ceremonies) are available].
b) The Costs of above ceremonies may vary from $500 to $1000 dollars, depending upon the type of ceremony requested and number of priests involved in each ceremony.
c) In reference to the above concerns, the family is kindly requested to contact any one of the above Priests.
V. ATTENDING PHYSICIAN AND COUNTY CORONER:
If death occurs at home, the family doctor should be notified immediately. In the event your family doctor is not available, then you should call the nearest local hospital and report the death. If the death takes place under the natural circumstances (Heart-attack, Blood pressure, Old-age etc) the family doctor or physician will release the deceased body to the Mortuary. The family doctor or the attending physician may decide to notify a Coroner if there is a reason to believe that death has occurred under the circumstances set out in the Coroner's Act. Thus, usually in the case of Homicide, Accident or Suicide cases, the body will remain under the custody of Coroner (and not a physician); and only after the Coroner's approval the body will be released to the Mortuary.
VI. FUNERAL HOME:
The Director will:
1. Make an appointment with the family at the earliest convenient time to secure the information necessary for Statement of Death form. This form will include the deceased's date and place of birth, marital status, occupation, social service number, Father's full name, mother's maiden name, types of services required etc. The director will also provide various alternative funeral packages and prices of different caskets so that, the family can decide on their preferences.
2. Attend to all the paper work necessary for shipping the body to India, which includes getting proper endorsement of the Indian Consulate on the deceased passport, filing Letter of embalming and Death Certificate for getting final approval of the Consulate to ship out the deceased body.
3. Make arrangements for embalming the deceased body. [I am still working on getting waiver for this requirement. Meantime, I recommend your association as a registered non-profit community organization to approach the Consulate of India with an appeal for consideration on the religious grounds.]
4. During your appointment with him, you should mention about the place and time required for completing the final ceremonies before the body is shipped out. This is because, putting on Sudreh-kusti on the deceased body and Gehsarna ceremony will be performed here, after the body has been embalmed and released by the concerned authority (Physician or Coroner). If no Priests are available in your area, you must request this ceremony along with Sarosh-nu- Patru to be done in India/ Pakistan, giving the name of the deceased to your relatives to perform these ceremonies in any Agiary or Atash/ Behram. Please do not forget this crucial step immediately upon the death and prior to shipping of the deceased body.
[According to our traditions, Gehsarna ceremony should be performed within 24 hours. If the family wish to follow this tradition, they must inform the Priests, and the mortuary director, to make necessary arrangement as the prayers has to be performed before embalming. This arrangement can be possible only if, the person is deceased by a natural death.]
5. Make arrangements with the Airlines for transportation. [Please note that, if somebody from the family wish to travel along with the deceased body, the director should be informed at the time of arranging the funeral package.
VII. Shipping Regulations in California:
The attending physician or coroner must sign the death certificate. This must be filed with the County Registrar and they issue a permit. Along with this permit, copies of the death certificate, the passport, and a letter signed by the mortuary must be mailed or express mailed to the India Consulate office in San Francisco for authorization. Only after these papers are authorized and send back to the mortuary, the deceased body will be allowed to be shipped to India.
VIII. Shipping Regulations to India:
1. Body must be embalmed.
2. Certain communicable diseases are prohibited.
3. Certified Death Certificate(s) required.
4. Letter of non-contagious disease is required.
5. Notification to the Health Officer at the port of entry in India at least 48 hours prior to arrival.
6. Either the casket or the outer packing crate must be hermetically sealed.
7. The body must be placed in a metal shell with all joints soldered to seal- in all gasses and odors, etc. (Ziegler Case - a metal inner liner that fits inside the casket.)
8. The metal shell (Ziegler Case) must be placed in hardwood casket.
9. The casket must be placed in a zinc or tin lined wooden outer packing case that is filled with sawdust that has been soaked with carbolic acid.
IX. FUNERAL COSTS:
The cost of Funeral services will vary with area (County, State) and the types of services required by the family. The cost of air transportation may vary as in certain cases, the deceased body will be first shipped from LAX Airport to New York, where it will be hold for minimum 24 hours and then, it will be shipped to India through another Airlines. Since there are many Funeral Homes with competitive cost packages, you may select anyone in your neighborhood and use their services. While going through my research on this subject, I have come across the following Mortuary service and its price list. I would like to inform the reader that I do not endorse anything about this Mortuary.
PIERCE BROTHERS MORTUARIES AND CEMETERIES
(Branches throughout United States)
DOKHMENASHENI IN INDIA
If you need counseling about any of your concern in relation to below given costs package, you may refer my name to speak with the counselor at (714) 826-6440. The below prices may vary depending on the time and place of departure.
Charges for forwarding deceased to India:
- Professional Services $ 754.00
- Sealing Casket (Required by Airline) $ 895.00 (Start at $ 895.00 up to $ 9800.00)
- Air Transportation Container $ 623.00
- Permit fee for Orange County Deaths $ 14.00
- 3 Certificate copies of the death certificate $ 30.00
- India Consulate Fee $ 10.00
- Overnight express mail $ 10.00
Total Approx without Airline Charges. $ 2,314.00
X. AIRLINES CHARGES:
Charges per Kilogram
(these charges could change)
LAX to Bombay 10.96 per Kilo. (For 500 lbs.- $ 2485.67)
LAX to Calcutta 10.00 per Kilo.
LAX to Delhi 10.96 per Kilo.
LAX to Madras 11.17 per Kilo.
Lufthansa German Airlines
(Air Cargo - Tel.# (714) 646-3873)
$ 569.00 per 100 lbs (For 500 lbs.- $ 2845.00)
$ 65.00 Surcharge
P.N. Restriction on time of arrival for human remains.
$ 4.85 per pound from LAX to New York
For 500 pounds - $ 2425.00
$ 5.32 per pound from LAX to Bombay
For 500 pounds - $ 2660.00
XI. WORDS OF WISDOM:
In order to consign the deceased body for Dokhmenashini certain religious restrictions applies, according to our High Priest Dasturji Dr. Firoze M. Kotwal of Wadiaji Atash Behram, Bombay. In his letter to the trustees of Bombay Parsee Panchayat, he stated, Dokhmenashini ceremony is based on religion and not Law. Hence, only the religious view has to be taken and the legal view has to be ignored. In reference to use of the Doongerwadi facilities for the interment of Parsi Zoroastrian men or women married to non- Parsee he said, "the religious view demands that a Zoroastrian lady (or man) married to a non-Zoroastrian ceases to be a Zoroastrian upon marriage and, therefore, she (or he) is not entitled to the after-death ceremonies as per the doctrine of Dokhmenashini, hence, her mortal remains cannot be consigned to the Tower of Silence." He further stated, "if a Zoroastrian male marries a non-Zoroastrian under the Special Act (or under any Laws of Land), the marriage has no religious sanctity.
In reference to ceremonies performed by the priests, he stated that the priestly class represented by the Athornan Mandal, has rightly taken the view that a Zoroastrian woman married to a non-Zoroastrian (or Zoroastrian male married to a non-Zoroastrian) is not entitled to the after-death ceremonies as per the tenets of Dokhmenashini and, therefore, no priest should perform such a ceremonies. His opinion was seconded by Dasturji Dr. Hormazdyar K. Mirza, (High Priest of Udwada) and Dasturji Dr. Kaikhusroo M. JamaspAsa, (High Priest of the Anjuman Atash Behram).
Correspondance with the Council of High Priests in Bombay, India:
Question: What kind of Religious rituals has to be performed here in case of a Zoroastrian Death ? (as none of the Mobeds here are full time mobeds and we need proper guidelines).
Answer: As it may not be possible to perform all ceremonies after the passing away of a Zoroastrian due to circumstances beyond your control, at least the `Sachkar', the `Gahsarna' (if not the entire Yasna Has 28-34, then Y.-28, 31, 34) and the Afringan of Dahm at the dawn of the fourth day followed by that of Ardafravash should be performed. The higher liturgical ceremonies like the Yasna in honor of Sros and the 4 Bajs could be arranged to be performed in Bombay or elsewhere (Udvada, Navsari, Surat) through relatives or friends who could be telephonically informed. The recital of Afrinagan, Farroxshi and Stum is vital on the 10th, 30th, 31st, monthly Roz, Fravardi Roz, on the 2nd anniversary-day and also during the 10 days Muktad.
IN MEMORY OF......
According to the Zoroastrian belief, the relation between a pious deceased and his surviving relations does not altogether cease after death. His holy spirit continues to take some interest in his living dear ones. If the surviving relations cherish his memory, remember him with gratefulness, try to please him with pious thoughts, pious words and pious deeds, it is likely, that these invisible departed spirits will take an interest in their welfare, and assist them with an invisible helping hand. The most essential requisite, by which a surviving relative can please the holy spirits of his departed dear ones, is this, that he should be pious in thought, words and deeds, and that he should perform meritorious charitable deeds. We read Yasna (Ha XVI, 7): We praise the brilliant deeds of piety in which the souls of the deceased delight.
Atha Zamyat Yatha Afrinami
In His Service,
Ervad (Dr.) Hoshang J. Bhadha
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