Parsi Community in India and What makes them Distinct from Others

10 Interesting facts about the Parsi Community in India

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A Parsi Community wedding ritual
A Parsi Community wedding ritual. Wikimedia
  • Parsi’s came from Faras, Persia, more than a thousand years ago
  • The reason of decreasing population is due to migration, declining fertility rate and late marriage
  • The religion Zoroastrianism was founded 3,500 years ago in ancient Iran by Prophet Zoroaster

New Delhi, August 19, 2017: The Parsi’s are an immigrant community, they are of Zoroastrian faith. Parsi Community came from Faras, Persia, more than a thousand years ago and are now located in Mumbai, India. They are mostly settled in old Mumbai but in recent times, they have settled in major cities and towns in India. Some of them are also found in countries like United States, Canada, England, and Pakistan.

In 1901 the Parsi population in India was around 93,952; in 1976 it was around 82,000   and in 2014 it fell down to 60,000. Since then the population has been decreasing. The reason of decreasing population is due to migration, declining fertility rate and late marriage.

ALSO READ: The decreasing number of Parsis in India and their concerns

Some of the holy Parsi festivals are Nowroz (New Year’s Day), Frawardigan (commemorating the dead souls), Pateti (the day of confession and repentance). Some of the famous Parsi people in India are Scientist Homi Jehangir Bhabha, Businessman JRD Tata, India’s first Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, Former Chairman Tata Sons Ratan Naval Tata, Bollywood Actor Boman Irani, among others. Parsi community makes up a very crucial community of India despite their presence in small numbers.  Here are 10 interesting facts about them:

  • The native language of Parsi’s is Avestan but they also speak Gujarati or English. The religion Zoroastrianism was founded 3,500 years ago in ancient Iran by Prophet Zoroaster. There is a collection of religious texts of Zoroastrianism known as the Avesta. Some of their religious literature is in Pahlavi (it’s an Aramaic-based writing system used in Persia from the 2nd Century BC to the advent of Islam in 7th Century AD).
  • Birth of a Parsi child is followed by a ritual bath, a cleansing prayer, sacred items are given to him/her. The main priest conducts prayers and formally invites him/her in the community and religion.
  • Parsi’s don’t usually bury or cremate dead bodies; they leave the body so vultures can feast on it. They do this as they don’t believe in polluting air or land. It is done at a place called Dakhmas or ‘Tower of silence’. They began using electronic crematorium after there was a decline in the number of vultures after 1990.
  • The Parsi’s had to face a struggle period of 200 years when they rebelled against the Arab invaders in Iran (their home country earlier). It was called the period of silence. In order to retain their regional and cultural identity, they ran from Iran as the Arab conquered it and took refuge in Gujrat, India from 8th to 10th Century AD. Some of them later migrated to parts of Mumbai.
  • Qissa- i Sanjan is the account of the early years of Parsi settlement in India.

Also Read: Parsi community lauded for role in nation-building

  • The Parsi Community believes in the existence of one invisible God. Atash Behram (victorious fire) which is located in the fire temple is of prime importance to them. There are total 9 Atash Behram in the world, out of which 8 are located in the western India and one is located in central Iran. The Udvada Atash Behram is the oldest Zoroastrian temple and the continuously burning fire temple in the world.
  • Male-Female Ratio of Parsi Community is different than others; they have more females and lesser males. As per 2001 Census, 1050 females per 1000 males which are more than India’s average of 933 females.
  • To solve the problem of declining Parsi community in India, Jiyo Parsi Scheme was launched on 24 September 2013. It was a government supported the initiative.
  • Some say that by 2020 the Parsi population will decrease to 23,000 and this can take away from them the tag ‘community’ and can label them as tribals instead.
  • The Parsi Community has the highest literacy rate in India among any Indian communities which is 97.9% as per 2001 census.

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