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Zoroastrians or Parsis are mainly the descendants of the tenth-century immigrants from Persia. This page traces the history of Zoroastrian religion in India.


Zoroastrian Religion

ZoroastrianThough the total number of Zoroastrians in Indian population is very less yet they continue to be one of the important religious communities of India. According to the 2001 census, there were around 70,000 members of the Zoroastrian faith in India. Most of the Parsis (Zoroastrians) live in Maharashtra (mainly in Mumbai) and the rest in Gujarat. Zoroastrians or Parsis are mainly the descendants of the tenth-century immigrants from Persia. Though the number of Zoroastrians in India is alarmingly low yet they wield great influence because of their financial position. The level of Zoroastrian population is ascribed to migration, low birth, late marriages, non-marriages, divorce and infertility.

In the beginning, the Parsis or Zoroastrians were engaged in shipbuilding and trade activities and were located in the ports and towns of Gujarat. Slowly and gradually their entrepreneurial skills saw them expanding and controlling trade and commerce. With colonial expansion they got more trading opportunities and substantial number of Parsis moved to Bombay. From then onwards Mumbai or Bombay served as a base for expanding their business activities throughout India and abroad. Sanjan, Nausari and Udvada towns in Gujarat are of great importance to Parsis as they served as community centers before the Zoroastrians or Parsis migrated to Bombay in the nineteenth century

The Zoroastrians enjoyed the benefit of Western commercial contacts and English-language education and expanded their commercial dominance rapidly and became the most cosmopolitan community in India during the British rule. In modern India, Parsis are the most urban, elite, and wealthy of almost all the religious groups of India. Parsis have played an important role in the development of trade, industry, finance, and philanthropy, which has earned them an important place in the India's social and economic life. Many of the Parsis or Zoroastrians have earned accolades in government services and law.

The religious book of the Parsis is called source the Avesta, which includes a number of sections in archaic language attributed to Zoroaster and which preserve the cult of the fire sacrifice as the focus of ritual life. The religious and ritual life of pious Parsis revolves around sacred fires. The most important rite for most lay Parsis is the Navjote. It is performed when a person is between the age group of seven and fifteen. It initiates the young person into the adult community of the Parsis. The Navjote ceremony involves purifying bathing, reciting Avesta -based scriptures, and being invested with a sacred shirt and waist thread (kusti) that should always be worn after the ceremony. The dead Parsis are disposed of by exposure to vultures Dakhmas (or towers of silence).