Parsis were descendants from the region of Iran, who followed the leader Zoroaster; hence they are also referred to as Zoroastrians. Parsi, in local dialect means, people who migrated from the Persian regions, so basically, they came to be known as Parsis.
Although history has not exactly recorded when Parsis migrated to India, the reasons for their migration are quite familiar. The Iranis faced threat in their own lands in Iran around 8th century and that’s when they started moving out from that place.
The Iranis faced Islam invasion on their own lands and were forced to convert to their religion and follow their customs. But the Iranis were so determined to not let go off their culture and traditions that they started to flee from their settlements.
Slowly they started living in the border regions of their own country but the threats continued to haunt them. That’s when they set foot on the Indian soil and initially they were into agriculture.
Later, they got into other professions and started mixing with the people of India and became a well-formed community here in India. Hence, in India apart from the major religions in practice, we also have people belonging to the Parsi community, popularly called the Zoroastrians.
The Parsis initially entered India through the Gujarat border, but slowly they started moving to other places in India and apart from North India, they can also be found at Places in South India like Bangalore, Hyderabad etc. They worship the fire and their temple is popularly called the fire temple.
They do not belong to the Hindu community and do not follow any of the customary practices prevalent in the Hindu religion. Hence, their customary beliefs, faiths and traditions are very different from Hinduism.
General Information about Pateti
When government carried out their annual census reports in 2011, they found the number of Parsi citizens in the country to be around 57,264. They are well educated since most of the Parsis prefer to live in well developed, urban areas and have a high literacy rate amongst them.
Female Parsi population is a little higher than the male Parsi population. Also, people who were earlier staying in some regions of the country have now chosen to migrate and move away too far off places, owing to modernity and changes in lifestyles.
This has also brought about a steady decline in the birth rates of new offspring among the Parsi community. It can also be noted that some of the Parsis choose to remain single and this factor also contributes to the fact that the Parsi population is slowly declining.
Parsis do not believe in idol worship. The most important part of their worship is following the guidelines and principles of Zoroastrianism which stresses on human qualities, connection with god, going to the fire temples to worship god etc.
Their religious practices lay a lot of importance on the purity of the mind. A mind that is pure and serene is simply true to attract god’s blessings because it’s true to itself and also true to the world.
Whereas, a heart and mind that’s impure with thoughts that do not create any good for humanity is bound to bring about destruction, both to the self and to the rest of the world. So, it’s very important to keep the mind in a pure and balanced state.
Special Customary Practices
A special ceremony called the initiation ceremony lets small children enter the faiths and doors of Zoroastrianism and this special ceremony is termed as Navjote. During this ceremony, a small kid who is able to understand what the ceremony is going to mean to him and his future life is allowed to enter the doors off faith of Zoroastrianism and then follow the guidelines of the religion.
The child who is to be inducted is given a holy bath, holy prayers are recited in front of him and the priest in the fire temple makes him to stand in front of him, facing the fire, after which he is formally inducted into the religion.
Their beliefs and customs when it comes to marriage and funerals are very different from that of other religions. It is primarily because of the differences in their belief systems.
Marriage customs are held in the presence of a Parsi priest who formally announces the marriage and declares the couple husband and wife. Funeral practices are very different when compared with other religions.
Parsis do not believe in the burial of dead bodies as it is against their natural belief systems and invasion of their faith. They let the corpses to decompose naturally in the effect of sunlight.
The Parsi New Year
Jamshed, a noted king in Persia was the first person to ever formulate the Persian calendar and though there have been modifications and revisions to the calendars currently in practice, the New Year of the Parsis is celebrated on the 17th of August.
The celebrations of the New Year begin with much pomp and show when Parsis clean their houses, decorate it well, get together with relatives to add to the touch of festivities, all family members buy new clothes and eat special delicacies on the special day.
The Parsis also believe hugely in charities and donations. They make a significant contribution to the society by donating funds on the special days of their new year.
Another important feature of the Parsis is their belief in cleanliness. The faith in purity of souls makes them follow a high doctrine of principles, much different from other belief systems.
Cleaning of house as part of New Year celebrations begins from few weeks before the actual New Year to welcome god to their house and seek his blessings. Children and the elderly get to work and start cleaning their surroundings and the place they live in to create a holistic place for living. Parsis are known for their purity in thoughts.
They are great givers to the society. They believe in the essence of cleanliness and maintain clarity in their thinking and words. Apart from cleaning, the house members also mark the occasion of New Year with newly bought accessories to decorate and deck up the house.
New lighting arrangements are made to mark the special day and chalk out a path that would seem good for the next year to come. Light and purity go hand in hand when it comes to the basic ideas of decoration.
Along with decoration, wearing new clothes as a mark of leaving behind the old thoughts to make way for new light to come in, to set the whole ambience new is created by bringing in new clothes for the whole family.
Wearing new clothes, the entire family takes a day off from their work and sits together to enjoy special dishes prepared by the women of the house and have a nice time together.
Parsis are highly educated and census reports indicate their high level of literacy. Their participation in major businesses and frontier roles of the country in matters of industrial development sectors has shown their contribution to the country.
Many noted personalities who are from the Parsi community have made a very reputed mark for themselves because of their education and value systems from where they come. There are many women achievers among the Parsis and many women of the present generation have been educated so well that they spin their careers to the next level and see marriage as a hindering factor on their path.
This has led to shortage of brides within the Parsi community to some extent. The Parsis place heavy importance on fire as a representative symbol and respect and treat it equal to god. Purity and unpolluted minds and souls are what they look for in humans and that is what they aim to achieve in their lifetime.
The government has declared the Parsis as a minority community and special provisions have been made to look into their interests. Special welfare schemes for their education and careers are launched to encourage them in all fields like the other citizens of India.
Parsis visit the fire temple on all important occasions and engage in charitable activities to a very great extent.
When a person is dead, they don’t believe in building graves for them, instead they place importance on opening charitable trusts in their names. This shows their service mentality towards the society and they think of the greater benefit of the society as well.