How is a Dakhma constructed and consecrated? (TMY – Jame Jamshed of 7 & 14-5-17)

  1. The Dakhma is a religious institution which is almost as important as a fire temple. Whenever Zoroastrians settled at a new place, they would have a Dakhma built and consecrated as soon as there were 8 to 10 families. There were about 120 Dakhmas in India in 1906.
  2. When the Dakhma is to be constructed, an elevated ground away from habitation is selected.

A well is dug about 300 paces from the site to provide water for the rituals and for subsequent use. The ground is cleaned with taro by letting cows graze there for some time. Then water is sprinkled and the ground is surrounded by a cloth curtain, and Baj-dharna rituals and a Jashan is performed.

  1. A senior priest recites the Baj of Sarosh and digs the ground with a pick-axe reciting 21 Yatha ahu Vairyos. This is called the “Kodali Marvani Kriya.” Thereafter labourers dig the foundation which would be about 8 feet deep, which takes about two weeks.
  2. After this, the “Tāno purvāni kriyā” is done in which 101 very fine cotton threads are thrice taken around 301 nails with particular weight specifications, the heaviest nail weighing about 20 Kilograms. The total weight of all the nails comes to 100 Kilograms. The Tana ceremony takes about three hours to complete. It is meant to control the nasā (physical and spiritual contagion) emanating from the corpse.
  3. Thousands of devout Zoroastrians gather to witness the Tana ceremony. The visitors throw gold, silver and copper coins, currency notes and even ornaments in the pit as their contribution towards the building of the Dokhma. It is considered meritorious to witness the construction of a Dokhma. The place is kept open for viewing for about two weeks, to enable people to come and witness the Tana.
  4. The construction of the Dokhma starts over the nails and threads. First the circular structure is built and then the pavis are made inside with the central pit (bhandar). The ratio of the structure to the bhandar is about 3:1.

8. After the construction is complete, a day is fixed for its consecration. The consecration process goes on for four days, during which several Baj-dharna, Yazashne and Vandidad rituals are performed. On the fourth day, a Jashan is performed before the assembled gathering and the Tandarosti is recited for the person sponsoring the construction of Dakhma. Now the Dakhma is ready for use, in which, preferably the first body to be laid should be of a child or a pious man.

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