The first thing people say when speaking of PARSIS before we go How “PARSIS of India contributed to India”, is “How tiny the community is”.
In the whole Indian subcontinent, there are about 70,000 Parsis alive the day I am writing this article.
The government-mandated program, “The Jiyo Parsi Initiative”, encourages young Parsis to focus on adding cute babies to the community and helping the numbers stabilize if not grow.
In this article, we will discuss how religious aspects make us good positive minds and hearted people rather than making misunderstandings among the multi-religious environment.
The Basic definition of a pure PARSI:
1A huge-hearted prophet
- The word ‘Parsi’ is an ethnoreligious term that refers to Pars, the original home of the community that migrated to India to escape the tyranny of invasion in the 8th century CE.
- Parsi follow Zoroastrianism. Zoroastrianism is an ancient Persian religion that may have originated as early as 4000 years ago. Zoroastrianism is the religion preached by the prophet Zarathustra was born in modern-day Iran.
- For the first time in history, he introduced the idea that there is only one God – Ahura Mazda – to whom mankind should direct their prayers, petitions, and gratitude.
- Zoroastrianism is one of the oldest examples of monotheism or belief in one God. The religion he preached spoke of goodness(every religion do that but it’s upon followers how they take it), purity and kindness, and originated somewhere between 1500 BCE to 6500 BCE, making it the oldest religion in the world(it is a debatable topic which religion is oldest, let’s not enter there).
2Nature-friendly rituals of Parsis of India
- Parsis are taught to respect the elements of nature and hold in highest regard the Almighty Fire.
- Their place of worship is the Fire Temple or Agiary and Atash Behram.
- In most Paris homes, there is a divo(Diya or Small fire) burning in a sacred corner of worship.
- A ritual called a Navjote is held for every young person of the Parsi community between the ages of 8 and 12, in which they are formally indoctrinated into the religion.
- Underneath a Parsi’s clothes, you will find them wearing a Sudreh (vest made of soft muslin) and Kusti (a woven thread wrapped around the waist): the symbol of their faith given at the Navjote ceremony.
- Parsis are taught the tenets of Good Thoughts, Good Words, and Good Deeds and to be mindful of how their thoughts, actions, and words bear consequences.
- They are highly encouraged to practice the spirit of tolerance, and hence most(exceptions are not examples) Parsis you meet are tolerant, peace-loving, and gentle. They love every animal and kind to all.
- When the Parsis fled Iran in the 8th to 10th century CE on ships, they took with them the Holy Fire and set sail in search of a safer home. They landed on the coast of Gujrat where the local king welcomed them.
- The Qissa-i Sanjan (Story of Sanjan) is the only existing account of the early years of Parsi settlers on the Indian Subcontinent, narrating the long, arduous journey from Iran to Gujrat, where they settle down.
- A popular story about Parsi goes like… King Jadi Rana once presented the Parsi Head Priest added sugar to milk filled to the brim to signify how full his local community already was.
- The priest added sugar to the milk, suggesting that the Parsis would not let the community spill over but instead sweeten and enrich it.
- The impressed king agreed to let the Parsis stay, asked them not to marry locals, adopt the local language and clothing, and cease to bear arms.
- Thus the Parsis became part of Gujrat! They speak a Parsi-fied version of the style language, wear the Gujarati style saris as traditional garb, etc.
The original holy Fire resets in the most revered Fire Temple in a small town called Udvaba and Parsis visit here as Holy Pilgrimage. This consecrated fire has been continuously burning for the last twelve years.
3Parsis of India mention in Indian History books
- Slowly Parsis of India move towards Mumbai City. Dorabji Nanabhoy was the first Parsi to move in 1640, following the arrival of the Portuguese. The British took control of Bombay with the establishment of East India Company.
- The Parsis of India moved in droves to the city and eventually lest a huge imprint on its landscape.
- Various Parsi business like the Tatas fuelled the economic growth of Mumbai and India. Sir Sorabji Nusserwanji Pochkhanawala was one of the founders of the Central Bank of India.
- Pherozeshah Mehta, one of the founding members of the Indian Congress, and Cowasjee Nanabhoy Davar set up the country’s first cotton mill.
- Great Parsis of India business ethics are still practiced today in companies like The Serum institute, the world’s most prominent vaccine producer owned by dr Cyrus Poonawalla, and the Tata Groups of Companies made strong and study by Mr. Ratan Tata.
4The socio-economics of Parsi-Panu
- The Parsi community has been at the forefront of many social and economic reforms in India.
- Most Parsis of India, households are well off and form part of the vibrant Indian upper-middle-class. Parsi’s are for the most part, economically sturdy and highly educated.
- In Parsi homes, girls and boys are brought up equal and a great deal of attention is paid to a good education.
5The great Parsi Bhonu from Parsis of India
Parsis of India are great lovers of food. The Parsi gamblers (gatherings for feasts) are a ritual steeped in religious significance that has evolved to become regular meet and greets to accommodate the good-natured community’s need to congregate, eat, and make merry! Gambhars are held for pious, celebratory, and sombre occasions.
- Parsis of India of all age groups and economic backgrounds gather and enjoy meals often brimming over with meat.
- Parsis food is a meat lover’s delight and is available at selected restaurants in India. A popular Parsi eatery is Jimmy Boy in Mumbai.
- Popular dishes include Salli-Boti (a Chicken stew with potato straws) and Dhansak (a spiced Parsi dal and rice enjoyed as the mutton variant).
- Irani cafes were originally opened by Zoroastrian Irani immigrants to British India in the 20th century, fleeing Islamic persecution in West and Central Asia.
- In India Mumbai and Hyderabad boast several Irani cafes, which are very popular for Irani chai (tea).
Luminaries of the Parsis of India:
The Parsis are such a small community, that it takes outstanding brand ambassadors to draw the world’s attention to its very existence.
He is a British Indian entrepreneur and representative in the British House of Lords.
He is known for founding the popular global beer brand Cobra Beer.
7Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw
He was chief of the Army Staff during the Indo-Pak war of 1971 and the first military officer to attain the rank of Field Marshal.
His military career lasted four decades beginning with World War II under the British Army.
8Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore
One of the bravest soldiers to serve the Indian Army, Ardeshir Burzorji Tarapore was awarded the highest gallantry award, Param Vir Chakra, for his valor and sacrifice in 1965 Indo-Pak war.
9Fali Homi Major
Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major served as the 21st Cheif of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
10Bhikaiji Rustom Cama
She was a prominent figure and fighter for equal rights for women in the Indian Independence Movement.
11Sir Dadabhai Noaroji
He is known as the Grand Old Man of India.
Was an influential member of the British Parliament who stood up for the plight of his native country.
He was a three-term President of the Indian National Congress.
He is said to be India’s first anti-corruption activist as he exposed the nexus between the government and business powerhouses at the time.
He was born Feroze Gandhy in 1912 but was so inspired by Father of the Nation, Mahatma Gandhi, that he changed the spelling of his surname from Gandhy to Gandhi after joining the Independence movement.
13Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata
He was the first licensed pilot of India. He is the founder of India’s first airline, Tata Airlines, in 1932 which became Air India in 1946.
And he took the Tata Group to new heights with Tata consultancy services, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Tea, and Voltas.
Ardeshir Godrej along with his brother Piroj started small manufacturing locks in 1887 and gradually expanded the Godrej brand creating a mass positive economic impact that later became the Godrej industrial empire.
Similarly, there is also Nessi Wadia of the Bombay Dyeing Group.
15Homi Jehangir Bhabha
He was a brilliant student who attended Mumbai’s Elphinstone College. He was instrumental in starting India’s nuclear program.
With the help of JRD Tata, he played a major role in establishing the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research in Mumbai.
He is fondly known as Grandfather of the modern Indian industry thanks to his business acumen and entrepreneurial skills.
He established India’s trade relations with England, America, Europe, China, and Japan.
Jamshetji also build the iconic Taj Mahal Hotel in Mumbai in 1903, the only hotel in India to have electricity at the time.
While we also had cricketer Farokh Engineer, there was also Polly Umrigar, a legendary cricketer who played from the late ’40s to the early ’60s.
He held the record of the Indian player with most tests only to be broken by Sunil Gavaskar.
Former Captain of the Indian Women’s test cricket team, Diana Edulji, strongly fought against male dominance in the sporting world.
She refused once to enter Lord’s Pavillion in England.
She is said to be the greatest Indian woman cricketer of all time.
He is a novelist, short story and screenplay writer, made a name for himself, while humorist and columnist for varied newspapers and founder of Afternoon Despatch and Courier.
Behram “Busybee” Contractor was a name to reckon with in the journalistic world.
Padma Shri Sooni Taraporevala is an Indian screenplay writer, photographer, and filmmaker best known as the screenwriter of Oscar-nominated Salaam Bombay (1998).
Homi Adajania is a noted Indian film director and writer.
He is a pop culture icon, TV anchor, theatre personality, comedian, political satirist, and columnist.
He is a versatile actor with unforgettable roles in over a dozen Bollywood films.
Is a gorgeous actor who also spends time with her poultry business, Zorabian Chicken.
The founder of Shamiana Arts, Cyrus Dastur is a young and influential filmmaker and proponent of short stories through film.
He is a conductor of Western and Eastern classical music and the music director emeritus of the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra amongst other world-famous orchestras.
He continues to impact the world of music through initiatives that support young musicians worldwide.
Tanzania-born Farrokh Bulsara a.k.a. Freddie Mercury was the iconic frontman of British rock band Queen.
He defied the traditional image and was known for his flamboyant persona and four-octave vocal range.
28Fali R. Singara
He is a very famous AIR Radio Jockey, film director, producer, and writer.
Again, He produced and directed a documentary on Mother Teresa screened at the Vatican (Rome) for the Pope.
He also started the first Elvis fan club in Mumbai.
Veteran rocker from Mumbai, Gary Lawyer, known for his recording English albums has made a living as a Western musician, through his live shows, playing glorious gigs around the country, to serenading balmy jazz standards.
Keyboardist Zubin Balaporia is part of rock group Indus Creed and also into the Bollywood film industry, composing music for many films.
He is a Bollywood choreographer who put the Parsis on the world dance map.
Long before modern-day actresses took to the international stage in Hollywood, it was former Miss India (1965) Persis Khambatta who was on board the USS.
Supermodel and actress Mehr Jessia won the Miss India title in 1986, while Mr. India was not far behind.
34Viraf Phiroz Patel
Viraj is a model, television actor and theatre personality shot to fame as The Grasim Mr. India 2005.