Meera Subramanian, senior editor at our sister site Killing the Buddha, has an article in today’s Wall Street Journal on the crisis Parsis now face with the extinction of vultures; since the time of Herodotus, they have relied on these birds to dispose of their dead. Subramanian writes:
In the earthly realm of humans, Parsis also believe in the ritual purity of fire, soil and water, elements that shouldn’t be sullied by pollution from a defiling corpse. So while virtually all other cultures dispose of their dead by burial or cremation, Parsis have followed a more unusual method. Yet after millennia, that method now has been called into question, forcing a crisis of faith whose only answer is adaptation.