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Daxma. Often referred to as a ‘Tower of Silence’, the place where Zoroastrians expose their dead to vultures. Because death and decay are seen as weapons of evil, a corpse is traditionally seen as the place where Angra Mainyu and his forces are powerfully present. All dead matter is polluting, but especially the corpse of a righteous person, for that represents a great (albeit temporary) victory of evil. It cannot therefore be buried in the earth, cremated, or disposed of at sea, for each of these is the good creation of Ahura Mazda. Zoroastrian funerals have two main concerns: to care for the soul and to restrict the pollution. It is important that a priest is called quickly after death. Traditionally the priest is accompanied by the Zoroastrian holy animal, a dog, who both protects people from threatening forces and is especially sensitive to an alien presence, and who therefore ritually ‘sees’ the corpse (Sagdid rite). There is an annual muktad ceremony where the souls of all the deceased are remembered.

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