As the Parsis in India celebrate their New Year today, here are few things which we must know about this admirable and zestful community who over the years have contributed a lot to the Indian society.
Who are Parsis ?
Parsis are an immigrant community from Persia who follows Zoroastrianism, which is world’s oldest known religion. However, they shouldn’t be confused with either Iranis or Persians who are ethnically distinct from them.
The Legend of Origin of Parsis in India :
According to an apocryphal Parsi legend, the Zoroastrian refugees after leaving Iran landed to the kingdom of Sanjan in Gujarat. They wanted to sought asylum but the King of Sanjan, Jadi Rana wasn’t much interested in allowing them to settle in his tiny kingdom. He offered them a filled pot of milk, stating that his land is full and cannot give shelter more people. In response, the leader of Zoroastrians poured sugar in the milk and the milk did not overflow. The king was very impressed by the gesture of sweetening the milk and the message behind it. The refugees promised that they wouldn’t cause any disorder and will adopt to the culture of the kingdom. The King then allowed the refugees to take asylum in his kingdom. Since then, the Parsis are known to be spreading sweetness among people all over the India.
Culture and tradition :
Parsi culture is quite unique and they follow Prophet Zoroaster and believes in the concept of purity and pollution, initiation, daily prayers, temple worship, marriage, funerals, and general worship. This sets them a separate identity in India. They usually worship in fire temples.The costumes of Parsis are also quite unique. Men usually wear skull caps, light trousers and light shoes. The Parsi women usually drape their sarees, the Gujarati way. Most of the Parsis speak Gujarati and even the dance, music and cuisine of Parsis are similar to that of the Gujaratis. Parsis have a large presence in Mumbai and several landmarks have been named after them. They celebrate Iraninan New Year ‘Navroze’ with full zeal and enthusiasm. Navroz was recently recognised as the UNESCO List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.
Prominent Parsi Personalities :
i) Homi Bhabha – Father of Indian nuclear programme
ii) The Tata, Godrej and Wadia Family – Indian industrialists
iii) Dadabhai Naoroji and Bhikaiji Cama -Indian independence activists
iv) Sam Manekshaw – 1st Indian Army officer to be appointed as Field Marshal, architect of 1971 war victory
v) John Abraham and Boman Irani – Bollywood actors
vi) Freddy Mercury – Rockstar
Quotes about Parsis :
“I am proud of my country, India, for having produced the splendid Zoroastrian stock, in numbers beneath contempt, but in charity and philanthropy perhaps unequalled and certainly unsurpassed” – Mahatma Gandhi
“The most important of all out-standing facts of Iranian history is the religious reform brought about by Zarathustra. He was the first man we know who gave a definitely moral character and direction to religion and at the same time, preached the doctrine of monotheism which offered an eternal foundation of reality to goodness as an ideal of perfection”. – Dr. Rabindranath Tagore
Navroz Mubarak! May it revitalize a new beginning in our spiritual and temporal worlds.