Who Are Parsi Irani Zarthoshtis
of India ?
The Parsis and Iranis of India are originally from
ancient Iran and they follow the Zarthoshti religion, as taught
by the great Iranian prophet Spitaman Zarathushtra. In the 10th
century, CE as a result of severe religious persecution, they left
their homeland of Iran and eventually settled along the west coast
of India, in Gujarat, at a place they named Sanjan.
The Parsis were welcomed by the peace loving Hindu
King of the Shillahara dynasty - Jadi Rana, who gave these Parsi
migrants of men, women and children religious sanctuary. The Iranis
who also follow the Zarthoshti faith, began to arrive in India from
the 19th century onwards, to escape religious persecution in Iran.
The Parsis and Iranis who follow the ancient Zarthoshti
religion have never promoted conversion as a policy. Like the Hindus
and Jews, the religion is ethno-focused. Therefore the Parsi or
Irani identity is fused to the Zarthoshti religion and is seen to
be inseparable from it. Some of the News Papers / Publications that
have covered WAPIZ.
It is this historically fused identity of being
Parsi and or Irani as of race and Zarthoshti as of religion, which
has helped to maintain the unique identity of this group, which
in turn has preserved the ancient practices of the Zarthoshti faith.
The Parsi Irani Zathoshtis have never promoted a policy of conversion,
not even in the days when Zarthoshti kings ruled a mighty empire
stretching from Eastern Europe to the River Indus, in present day
The community's strength worldwide, is estimated
to be 1,25,000 of whom 69,601 Parsis and Iranis, live in India,
according to the 2001 census figure. It is estimated that 45,000
Zarthoshtis live in Mumbai. The Parsis and Iranis have always shown
loyalty and gratitude to India and they have lived in peace and
harmony for more than a thousand years, contributing to the nation's
welfare, and its economic and social development.
Parsi Contribution :
The Parsi contribution to India has been extraordinary,
despite its small numbers. In the 18th and 19th centuries the Parsis
built the shipyards and docks of Surat and Mumbai and were in the
forefront of trade and commerce.
They helped to build India's national infrastructure
and promoted the growth of industry, in general.
Tata and Godrej are household names as is today
the Rasna group of Industries.
Parsis were in the forefront of the freedom struggle
and names such as Dadabhoy Naoroji, Madame Cama, Sir Pherozeshah
Mehta, Veer Nariman, Sir Dinshaw Vatcha and Sir Shapurji Bengali
fought to create a free and modern India.
Not many are aware that it was Parsi philanthropy
which helped Mahatma Gandhi to return to India from where Gandhiji
launched his freedom struggle.
Amongst the Parsis who have made their mark in
modern times are
Dr. Homi Bhabha - Father of Atomic Energy,
Field Marshall Sam Manekshah of the Indian Army,
the Jurist - Nani Palkhiwalla and
J. R. D. Tata - Founder of Civil Aviation.