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The family moved into a small house at 22 Gladstone Avenue, Feltham, Middlesex, England.Mercury enrolled at Isleworth Polytechnic (now West Thames College) in West London where he studied art.

“If the system is not working, an alternative has to be found,” said Ms Gundevia’s daughter Navaz Master, who can see for herself how the number of vultures circling not far from the windows of her family home has rapidly declined.Walking through the acres of lush gardens that house the dakhmas, the head of Mumbai’s powerful community organisation said the future was frightening.“The vultures are a species threatened with extinction, just like the Parsis,” said Dinshaw Mehta, chairman of the Bombay Parsi Punchayet.Katy Gundevia spent her final days in an apartment in one of Mumbai’s designated Parsi colonies, a few hundred yards away from the cavernous, circular wells where her community traditionally disposes of its dead.Parsis, descendants of Iranian followers of the ancient Zoroastrian religion who fled to India centuries ago, believe exposing corpses to scavenging birds and the sun ensures the sacred elements of earth, fire and water are saved from pollution by decaying flesh.The debate over their death customs has opened up a divide between liberal Parsis, keen to take their faith forward, and conservatives and elders who have watched with alarm as their community both modernises – and shrinks.

On Mumbai’s western sea front, Framroze Mirza presides over a newly opened and airy Parsi prayer hall at the crematorium chosen by Ms Gundevia.

He was known for his flamboyant stage persona and four-octave vocal range.

Mercury wrote numerous hits for Queen, including "Bohemian Rhapsody", "Killer Queen", "Somebody to Love", "Don't Stop Me Now", "Crazy Little Thing Called Love", and "We Are the Champions".

India’s tiny but prosperous Parsi community is struggling to find a balance between preserving its traditional rituals and an embrace of modern practices, amid a declining birth rate and growing numbers of mixed marriages.

Parsis, who are concentrated in Mumbai and count many of the country’s best-known billionaires among their ranks, now number fewer than 70,000 in a country of 1.2 billion, with fertility rates well below average.

In 2002, he was placed number 58 in the BBC's 2002 poll of the 100 Greatest Britons.